Label: Expanding Records
'Sparkle Plenty' is the second album from Cathode - Steve Jefferis, from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK. 'Special Measures', Cathode's debut album, was released by Expanding Records in 2004 following early releases on Static Caravan and 555 Records. The album was acclaimed for its winning combination of precision-glitch electronics and a warm melodic sensibility, gaining the judgement of 'first class' from John Peel and neatly summed up by Metro as '...a moody, melodic soundscape of carefully controlled clicks, beats and bleeps, producing a crescendo of beautifully blended electronic rhythms ... a sound as emotive as it is creative'.
'Sparkle Plenty' finds Cathode coupling the precision and warmth of the debut with a richer sonic palette - for instance, the skittering improv percussion of 'Dream Feeder', the strings, flutes and piano of 'Without Memory Or Desire', or the battered acoustic guitar and ticking clocks of 'Nightly Builds'. Centrepiece of the album is 'Structure Hunger', a juddering serialist-krautrock wonder, which has its origins in a collaborative project with film-maker Adam Finlay at Newcastle's Tyneside Cinema to provide new soundtracks to a batch of vintage colour-saturated summertime movies.
Along with releasing remixes for Bauri and d_rradio, and a 7 inch single for Newcastle's Distraction records, Steve has been spending his time since the debut album working on other music and film projects. These include membership of The Matinee Orchestra, Tyneside's pastoral-acoustic ensemble who released an acclaimed debut album on Isan's Arable record label; and the Warm Digits, a guitar-noise/electronics/free-improvisation collaboration with the Matinee Orchestra's Andrew Hodson.
Steve's day job as a clinical psychologist has some oblique influences on the new record. The title 'Sparkle Plenty' comes from developmental psychologist and psychoanalytic psychotherapist Daniel Stern's work on infant development. 'Sparkle Plenty' is his phrase for children whose way of coping with caregivers who are unresponsive or depressed is to 'sparkle' - with lots of smiles, activity and excitement, that masks the child's authentic (possibly much lonelier) emotional state. It's an apposite title for the record; Cathode's music has always been unashamedly about creating something beautiful, which acts to sweeten something that's much more melancholy underneath.