Valley Forge return and announce it’s Alright
After more than a decade of silence, Valley Forge are back with a new release, the new EP “Alright”, out now from Clan Analogue.
Valley Forge began making waves in Sydney’s electronic music scene in the early 2000s with their signature blend of synth-pop and alternative electro-rock. A string of releases on Clan Analogue helped build a loyal fanbase and critical acclaim for releases including their epic 2011 album Artificial Heart, the collaboration “Wayfaring Stranger” with Australian music icon Kamahl, and the single “Follow Suit” which included remixes by Boxcar and Single Gun Theory.
Their new single “Alright” is released as a 6-track classic 90s electro-pop maxi-single available on CD, download and streaming on all major platforms. It features four eclectic remixes of the title track, including one by Australian electronic pioneer Tom Ellard of Severed Heads, and the propulsive B-side “Rage-Fear-Love”.
“Alright” is a testament to Valley Forge’s ability to create lush soundscapes with an anthemic melodic hook, shimmering harmonics, pulsating electronics and thought-provoking lyrics, all packaged within a tightly composed pop song structure. The track will also appear on the forthcoming new Valley Forge album, scheduled for release next year.
Valley Forge frontman Freeman Lowell says, “Like a lot of other artists’ output from the last few years, “Alright” was seeded by the global COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns that affected the entire world. Its theme is that you have zero control over a great many things in life, and sometimes you simply have to keep your foot to the pedal and turn that corner, without knowing what the outcome will be.”
The opening track is what, in the 80s, would have been referred to as a 7-inch mix – a big sounding, alternative electronic pop track designed to bounce off the back of an arena, filled with swirling wah-wah guitars, chunky drums, two resonant basslines, synth arpeggios and lush pads drenched in phasers, choruses and reverbs.
The ‘Hair Cut’ (Track 2) is close to a traditional 12” version of the title track, remixed by Tom Ellard of Severed Heads with additional synthesised percussion and electronics.
Track 3 slows down with the stripped-back ‘Ambient Mix’, dropping the BPM and emphasising the sonar-inspired percussion hits, filter-sweeps and vocoders while adding arpeggios which syncopatically echo into the musical distance.
‘Alright: The OxyMix’ (Track 4) captures the spirit of 70s new-age synthesis, with phased string synths, minimal compurhythms and unison-lead synth sequences cascading downwards from analogue heaven, reminiscent of a certain European electronic pioneer/synth god.
The B-side, ‘Rage-Fear-Love’ raises the pulse rate with a driving bassline, skittering percussion, melodic leads and vocoded vocal samples, telling a tale of atomic-era emotional dysregulation, rising to a fever-pitch of side-chained sonic mayhem and a bit-crushed crescendo.
The final track is an instrumental version of the ‘Ambient Mix’, a chilled-out environment where the soundscape becomes an exploratory listen. Interpolating sequences rise and fall as they float among waves of delay-riddled atmospherics, accompanied by pulsing subharmonic bass and buoyant, airy percussion.
While Valley Forge’s earlier material is largely instrumental, their collaboration with Kamahl proved to be a pivotal moment for the band, and was the catalyst for vocals to make more of an appearance in their material. Valley Forge’s writing has always been a fairly organic process – driven by a deep love of sound design and layering. “Alright”, however, was written with one ear tuned to classic pop sensibilities. Its influences can be heard in much of the British Alternative hits of the 90’s & the 00’s as well as, dare they say it, The Beach Boys and Electric Light Orchestra. “We have always loved harmonies, especially when they tend to be a little melancholy.” Valley Forge also count among their many influences the likes of Depeche Mode, Orbital, LFO, Recoil, Scritti Politti, Jesus Jones and PWEI.
Valley Forge’s audio gear list has also grown over the last decade, comprising an array of vintage and modern equipment in both physical and digital formats, moulded through extensive buying, selling and trading of synths, samplers and drum machines. “It’s kind of a Swiss Army-style toolkit now, where everything does something different and you know exactly what each bit of kit is best at. We mix as we build, and we tend to have a lot going on in each track, so the ability to sculpt frequencies while still maintaining clarity and separation is absolutely vital” says Lowell, “Also we’ve gotten technically better at mixing and shaping that soundscape over the years, thanks in part to the incredible control you have over tiny details. We still like to eschew all that every now and again though, and leave something in that has a bit of wobble or “artistic” imperfection.”
“We’re thrilled to be back and to share our new music with our fans. We may have been quiet for the last decade but we never stopped making music. This EP, and the upcoming new album, hopefully showcases our growth as electronic producers and our willingness to push ourselves into a more speculative and pop-centric songwriting space.”
For a limited time, purchases of the “Alright” CD from Bandcamp come with a groove Valley Forge lapel pin. Head over to the Clan’s Bandcamp merch page via this link:
2. Alright (Hair Cut)
3. Alright (Ambient Mix)
4. Alright (Oxymix)
6. Alright (Ambient Instrumental)
Released September 2023.