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I Speak Machine features vocalist and synth entusiast Tara Busch and filmmaker Maf Lewis. Together they make brooding soundtracks and horror/sci-fi films, creating the audio and visual in unison and giving both elements equal prominence. Their approach is inspired by Spaghetti Western cinema duo Ennio Morricone and Sergio Leone, who used to play with score ideas for scenes while scripts were being written. Following the limited vinyl release of The Silence (the score to their own sci-fi short film which included a screening at the Purcell Room on London's Southbank) back in 2014, Busch and Lewis have teamed up with Benge from Wrangler and John Foxx & The Maths to work on their latest short film and album, Zombies 1985.
The movie was written and directed by Maf Lewis, starred Gary Numan's three daughters as zombies and was screened with the live score performed by Tara Busch in the States and UK on a 21 date tour with Numan. The accompanying 11 track album (all co-written by Busch & Benge) contains the score to the film and also a number of vintage synthesizer-based, "mutant" songs. "It quickly went from being just the score to being a full length album," explains Busch. "We decided to add a collection of songs that were a bit of a "love letter" to that era, with a bit of a Chris & Cosey/Cabaret Voltaire vibe." It's also the sound of 1985 by design: "We only used 1985 period equipment," says Benge. "And everything was mixed at my Memetune studios using only vintage mixers and effects units that would have been used in that time." By outlawing modern gear, I Speak Machine have made a virtue of their limitations, creating the sound of a neon-lit LA of the 1980s rapidly unspooling into chaos.
Mutant anthems and freaky sci-fi effects buzz like so many flies in the dense, smoggy electronics as tracks such as "Blood From A Stone" and "Demon Days" form a hazardous, toxic brew of paranoid art rock. "Petrified Mind" witnesses Busch morphing into the ghost of Grace Jones while "Shame" is the sound of sci-fi pop shimmering under the Californian desert sun, like a weird mirage of Peter Gabriel and Numan. "I think the album expands on the movie a bit with 80s pop songs that have a bit of an apocalyptic feel to them," adds Bush. "We wanted to elaborate and get a bit more detailed on the world we created in the film. It felt really natural to have these songs bleed out of the score component of the album and keep building on it as much as we wanted."