Despite its upbeat intentions, Elektrichka’s Favourite Party Record is an album that will always be overshadowed by the story behind it. Graeme Wilson, who was the founder of the experimental London collective The Projects, died in 2011 from multiple sclerosis at age 37, shortly before completing their fourth album. It was finished by the various musicians and friends he’d invited to play on it, including Mira Aroyo of Ladytron, Mon-chan of Bo Ningen and members of Comet Sands, Screaming Tea Party and Brian Jonestown Massacre.
The songs, then, were written when Wilson was suffering from serious ill-health, not that you can tell from the lo-fi oscillations of opener “Set a Course for the Stars.” Like Prolapse or Broadcast, Wilson uses motorik grooves to lock down imaginative flights of fancy: “Set a Course…” is a dream vision about finding an Earth-like planet in another galaxy. “Cold Fusion Experiment” is a piece of electro chemistry about cracking the nuclear code. “Emma Nutt” is a space age tribute to the world’s first female telephone operator, who reportedly memorised every number in the New England directory.
If previous Projects albums explored the possibilities of drone and repetition, here Wilson loops and layers to create moments of pure kosmiche pop: Tracks like “Anne is a Socialist” and “I’m in LLLLLove” recall Stereolab at their most locked-in and groovy. Aroyo’s spoken delivery provides a tender counterpoint to Wilson’s fragile voice on the latter, while “Elektrichka” and “I’m Learning Chinese” are noisier, flowing hypnotically from Krautrock to expansive, energetic post-rock.
His death may have cut The Projects tragically short, but this album is the one that brings Wilson’s cosmic, collaborative vision vividly to life.