Review of Sisters of Transistors album At The Ferranti Institute
On any other band the name might have seemed a little sub-par, but when I tell you that Manchester's Sisters of Transistors are (according to their own description) a "premier all-girl organ quartet", it should raise a smile at least. There aren't, to my knowledge, many of these outfits in existence nowadays and if there are any, I couldn't think of a better name for them.
It's impossible to try and relay the feel of At The Ferranti Institute without noting the unashamedly geeky fixation with the vintage organ. Graham Massey's drumming may underpin the tracks but it is the instruments alone that are centre stage. It's a brave and interesting move, considering that in a long line of tradition from Rick Wakeman's 6 Wives of Henry VIII to Ross from Friends, keyboard-led music has become pretty much synonymous with all things naff. But the sisters are here to challenge our preconceptions and At Ferranti Institute is steeped in quirky nostalgia. The dreary overtones of parlour music dominate the album's overall mood, from the creeping, hymnal 'Dies Israe' to the fittingly soviet 'The Bells of Moscow,' it's full of retrograde gloom. Think of a hammer horror soundtrack with a modern electronic twist, and there you have it. Forthcoming single 'The Don' gives a small respite with a more disco-flavoured fare, but it's a little too slow to be a dancefloor classic.
Whilst the proggy and experimental vibe is frivolous and fun at first, the organ is fairly one-dimensional instrument on its own. The endless keyboard riffs and sound effects become repetitive and as a listener you descend into a mire of synthy fatigue. So, whilst the sisters fangirl interest in this type of music is momentarily engaging, it's too faithful, too geeky appeal to everyone. Great for keyboard lovers maybe, but not quite enough life is breathed into it for the rest of us.