Since its first outing in the depths of Glasgow, Fatima Yamaha’s ‘What’s a Girl To Do’ has been passed around and reinterpreted to become a cult classic with a vitality that surpasses many chart toppers of today. With such a feat tucked under his belt there are expectations for the Dutch producer – real name Bas Bron – in his debut album Imaginary Lines, released on his own Magnetron Music.
Imaginary Lines centres itself around movement, space and most importantly, unity. Track titles do their best to allude to this while the music glides amidst starry synths – a strong devotion devotion to the 70’s and 80’s sort – to deliver a glitzy spaciousness. ‘Borderless II’ and ‘Love Invaders’ are sharp and celebratory starts to proceedings with grittier Chicago and Detroit style underbellies. ‘Love Invaders’ in particular has something about its hats and squelch that screams Detroit.
It’s unsurprising, in light of ‘What’s a Girl To Do’, that it is in the stripped back and slow burning tracks that Bron is at his best. Sofie Winterson’s poignant vocals on ‘Citizens’ – “Somebody drew a line in the sand, supposedly where our love ends, but don’t worry baby that’s ridiculous, we’re citizens only of the universe” – are held unwavering between a slumbering synthline and crystalline shimmers. It is frustratingly short though, clocking in at just over three minutes, but thankfully we are quickly swept up again by the album’s crowning moment, ‘Sooty Shearwater King of Migration’. Its springy step is welcoming while the flimsy plucks are an added quirk that can keep intrigue for hours. Once again though, no sooner has Bron brought his track to its peak is it coming to a close. If only he’d allowed the same time to these two as some of his earlier tracks.
As a debut album Imaginary Lines shows sustenance in Bron’s ability to shape and maintain a theme that is ambiguous and relevant. Its warm vintage style, timely vocals, and track titles all invite us to reflect on unanimous love. Social norms that so often obstruct people’s expression to another might be the imaginary lines to which he alludes. Alternatively, foreign track names (‘Shuppatsu’ is Japanese for “departure”), and a general theme of migrating make it hard to ignore the relevance Bron perhaps meant for it with regard to the refugee crisis. This theme of migration however has resulted in a handful of the tracks being attributed with an airiness that means they lack any bite or anything different from the track before it.
Breaking from the underground into mainstream with an electronic track is a rare feat and something Bron achieved at the beginning of his ‘official’ producing career. Therefore, despite its occasional setbacks, the narrative of his debut album means it can be viewed independently, away from the shadows of ‘What’s a Girl To Do’. As a result we have an enjoyable, authentic album (not just a compilation) that is an encouraging chapter for a talented producer forging his own style that sits somewhere between disco and crunch, Glasgow and the Midwest.