It might be impossible to handle Moog synthesizers without getting a Gary Numan vibe. Certainly, Roland keyboards don’t lend themselves as readily to a version of “Cars” or “Metal.” Oberheims don’t turn players into smile-suppressing robots.
It might be the Moog filter, or perhaps the purity of monophony, but the instruments are highly suggestive. They practically whisper, “Are friends electric?”
Page’s Eddie Bengtsson is a Moog fanatic. He sold off most of his Yamahas, Korgs and Dave Smith keyboards to stock up on the latest Moog gear. At first, he used it to update the classic Page sound, rebooting the guy-meets-girl poptronica that has been his signature. Then, he felt the vibe.
It features prominently on the new Page album. Yes, it’s got a long Swedish title – Det är ingen vacker värld men det råkar vara så det ser ut – but the latest release from Bengtsson and Marina Schiptjenko is clinically precise. There is a blinding cover of Numan’s “Tracks,” so you know where Bengtsson’s heart is, but several originals make use of the simple phrasing and significant pauses that characterised Numan’s early work.
Take “Utanförs” [EN: “Outside”], a meaty, muscular song with a sound that has been growing inside Bengtsson since 1979. It’s much warmer than anything Numan made at that time, but the Tubeway Army DNA is unmistakable. The Moog drives comfortably over this terrain – even newer models are built for it.
Some of the songs on Det är ingen vacker värld… have previously been issued as singles, but nestled among the other album tracks they make more sense. The album works best as a whole, following an arc that begins with the dramatic “Krasch” and formally ends with “Tid för en kyss” [EN: “Time for a Kiss”]. On the CD version, there follows a cluster of bonus tracks, which combine both the coldtronica of Numan and ventures into glam.
The third member of the band is clearly a Sub37 from the Moog stable. It pulses insistently in the bass register, tears through lead lines and provides enough atmosphere to support a small planet. Bengtsson’s vocals fit with it like the bodies of experienced lovers, and the intertwining of man and machine sounds as charged as it seemed back in 1979.
With Det är ingen vacker värld…, Page have gone back to the future.