Suffolk trio The Soft make pop-leaning post-dub with a self-consciously tactile twist. "We tread a fine line between electronic and acoustic music," explains vocalist Henry Morris of their new EP Uncanny Valley (streaming below). "A lot of our samples are of acoustic instruments, or found samples of keys and doors being opened. We try to focus on a more organic electronic sound rather than being entirely synthesised."
For the new material, via NY label Ceremony, the band were sought out by Border Community techno reinvigorator Luke Abbott. "We were just doing a gig at a little bar in Norwich, and he came over afterwards!" remembers Morris. "He was with David Pye, who engineered the last Wild Beasts record, and they said they really wanted to work with us."
Our first taste of The Soft's work with Abbott and Pye was the free download “Mori”, in which minimalist synth refrains blend with spliced vocals and analogue samples that are "manipulated until they sound artificial.” Their interest in robotics was inspired by the theories of Japanese visionary Masahiro Mori, which The Soft namecheck in the title of their new EP. "I was introduced to Mori's theory of the uncanny valley by my bandmate Zander (Fletcher), and it's built into a concept idea," explains Morris. "The idea is that it's pleasurable for something to be slightly humanlike. But when a mannequin or humanised robot is so close to being human – but not – it becomes unpleasant and horrific."
In the same vein, the creepy video for “Mori” features the rotations of a human-ish/robot-esque pastel-hued CGI head, hinting at the "audio-visual element" that bandmember William Glass has developed for The Soft's UK live dates. The suggestion of a tribute to the 80s trash-classic movie Mannequin receives short shrift though. "It's not really about that…" Morris laughs. "Though I can imagine the similar dull feeling of horror!"
Uncanny Valley EP is released on 12" on September 24. Pre-order here.