There is a long-running joke amongst Popdose staffers that, when we throw our first music festival, the master of ceremonies will (of course) be Michael McDonald, and the house band will be the System. If that seems to be a curious choice, bear in mind that there isn’t a writer among us who isn’t still dazzled by the band’s massive 1987 hit “Don’t Disturb This Groove.”
In the event that System members Mic Murphy and David Frank cannot work us into their schedules, though, we think we’ve found a more than worthy replacement.
Orqid is Tom Butcher, a Seattleite by way of Houston armed with a bevy of vintage analog synth gear and a deep reverence for both the groove and the emotional layer that many early synth-pop pioneers had in spades. (Case in point: the first four influences Butcher lists are Roxy Music, Brian Eno, David Bowie, and Chic. The System pops up a few bands later.) His new album Tenderness dabbles heavily in Eno-esque atmospherics (the final four songs, on a six-song album, are instrumentals), but on the title track, Butcher does his part to make sure the groove continues to remain undisturbed. But don’t take our word for it; here is Butcher explaining his love for the unsung duo.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of David Frank’s keyboard and synthesizer work in the System. The way he builds riffs and grooves is incredibly innovative and catchy, and then when Mic Murphy’s soul-drenched vocals come in you can’t really resist how infectious their songs are. I also love the electronic dance pop from the 1980s, and I’ve played The System’s albums <i>Sweat</i> and <i>X-Periment</i> in heavy rotation. With regard to my own work, I can trace a connection between ‘Tenderness’ and the System’s single ‘Don’t Disturb this Groove.’ Both songs have a laid-back tempo and an electronic groove foundation coupled with vocals that emanate from the soul.
“’Tenderness’ is about longing for meaningful connections in a difficult world. With Orqid being rooted in emotion, this record is all about channeling what I was feeling over the past year. Yearning for tenderness, longing for a love that has unraveled, centering on personal rituals, commenting on humanity, and finally realizing that even civilizations rise from and fall into dust.”
Tenderness arrives November 15.