Features | Awards

If a Record Never Gets Released on US Shores, Does it Really Make a Sound? Award

By David M. Goldstein | 21 December 2008

Black Affair
Pleasure Pressure Point
(V2; 2008)

Ex-Beta Band stalwart Steve Mason has had a history of clinical depression, and only a few years ago was the subject of suicide rumors when he canceled a bunch of tour dates for his Beta-esque King Biscuit Time project and simply disappeared. Turns out he was just biding his time before unleashing Black Affair, a collaboration with Detroit techno wunderkind/fashion plate Jimmy Edgar, hellbent on resurrecting a jagged brand of early ’80s electro-pop.

Pleasure Pressure Point is their debut. Here Mason acts as both wounded romantic and sultry loverman over heavily processed backdrops evoking Yello, Art of Noise, and Yaz—lots of Yaz. Mason’s mined this type of vein in the past, particularly on Beta Band glitch-pop classic “To You Alone.” But he’s never featured such an aggressive set of beats or sounded like he was having the time of his life.

If you think the idea of Mason spitting game over a coke decade’s worth of electro sounds fantastic, you’d be mostly correct, save for the fact that it’s easier to listen to in twenty minute chunks. The unflagging energy level gets exhausting quickly, especially on twenty-dollar headphones; still, it’s a shame Pleasure Pressure Point never saw a US release, and, except for a handful of minor blog postings touting the existence of early singles “It’s Real” and “Tak! Attack!,” was completely ignored by all usual suspects on American shores.