Mojo (UK) - - What Goes On! - Tom Doyle

Psy­chotropic beat-pop four strip things back, with a lit­tle help from Jan Ham­mer.

In the wake of their self-ti­tled, bed­room-recorded,

Mer­cury-nom­i­nated 2012 de­but al­bum, Django Django were af­forded the lux­ury of work­ing in proper stu­dios for its 2015 fol­low-up Born Un­der Saturn. They didn’t en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence much. So for their third, Mar­ble Skies, due in Oc­to­ber, they went back to ba­sics and rented a unit space in a ware­house in Tot­ten­ham, north Lon­don, and stuffed it with drums, synths and beat­boxes. “It’s where we all come to just mess about,” says pro­ducer/drum­mer David Ma­clean. “You can do what you want to do without wor­ry­ing about clock-watch­ing or stu­dio fees. To me, the last al­bum felt a bit bloated.” While cre­ated more in the fash­ion of their first, the band’s third LP re­draws their cut-and-paste rock­a­billy and fu­ture­headed dig­i­tal dance blue­prints, not least with the skif­fle-goes-dub rush of Tic Tac Toe and the Era­sure­in­flu­enced elec­tronic pop of In Your Beat. The pre­lim­i­nary ses­sions for Mar­ble Skies were un­usual for the Ed­in­burgh-formed band, how­ever: Ma­clean, knack­ered from tour­ing and un­spec­i­fied per­sonal prob­lems, re­treated to his home­town of Dundee for a three-month pe­riod, leav­ing the band to record loose jams in Lon­don with Metron­omy’s Anna Prior re­plac­ing him be­hind the kit. All the while, the oth­ers sent au­dio files north for him to tinker with. But did Ma­clean per­haps feel like the band were cheat­ing on him with an­other drum­mer? “Well, no, ‘cos she’s ginger as well, so there’s sol­i­dar­ity,” he quips. “Anna’s a real drum­mer. I’m a pro­ducer and I do a bit of drum­ming but I’m by no means a proper drum­mer.” Ul­ti­mately, Prior’s drum­ming only ended up on one song, pro­vid­ing the rapid pulse of the al­bum’s ti­tle track. “I just wouldn’t do a Krautrock beat like that in­stinc­tively,” stresses Ma­clean. An­other guest on Mar­ble Skies features more promi­nently, the dance­hall pop of Sur­face To Air be­ing solely fronted by Slow Club’s Re­becca Tay­lor af­ter an ini­tial plan for the song to be a duet with the group’s singer/gui­tarist Vin­cent Neff was deemed too cheesy. “It’s a bit of a curve­ball for peo­ple maybe, ’cos Vin­nie isn’t on it,” Ma­clean muses. “But to me it’s got the Django melody.” Mak­ing an ap­pear­ance in spirit, mean­while, on hyp­notic drifter Sun Di­als, is Czech-born ’70s jazz-fu­sion and ’80s synth pop maven Jan Ham­mer. For the track, Django Django key­board-player Tommy Grace re-per­formed the pi­ano mo­tif from The Sev­enth Day (on Ham­mer’s 1975 al­bum The First Seven Days). When he heard it, Ham­mer protested that Grace hadn’t played it cor­rectly. “He wanted us to change it back to ex­actly how he wrote it,” says Ma­clean. “But it didn’t work with all our other parts. Luck­ily he un­der­stood, and just said, ‘OK, well if that’s the

way it’s got to be, then run with it.’”

Wham, bam, Tot­ten­ham: in their north Lon­don stu­dio, David Ma­clean (left) and Vin­cent Neff avoid bloat­ing.

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