Xeno & Oaklander - Vi​/​deo

East Coast minimal wave institution Xeno & Oaklander’s seventh full-length further distills their iconic noir synth pop into a streamlined suite of gleaming, graceful retrofuturism. Inspired by ideas of synesthesia, scent, star worship, and obsolescent technologies, the duo of Liz Wendelbo and Sean McBride began conceiving the blueprint of Vi/deo while sequestered at their Southern Connecticut home studio during the pandemic. The context of isolation, streaming, and remote dreaming seeped into their chemistry, manifesting as both homage to and meditation on a certain cinematic strain of technicolor fantasy: the screen as stage, distance disguised as intimacy, where tragedy and glamor crossfade into one.

Opening with the precision synthetic melancholy of “Infinite Sadness,” the album marks a peak fluidity between the pair’s fusion of analog electronics and poetic melody, both refined and oblique, classic but contemporary. Wendelbo modeled her singing on “a young boy in a choir,” alternately holding notes and whispering them, with the lyrics clear, the voice elevated. McBride’s synthesizers serve as the perfect counterpart, tiered and polished, threading fluorescent architectures of a lost audio-visual age. Theirs is a darkwave of reverie and flickering city lights, swooning and sleek, romantic anthems for concrete bohemia, cigarette smoke in rainy gardens, and sound as color (“blue is fast and red is slow”). Vi/deo captures the bittersweet beauty of youth and utopias, the wistful transformation from miracle to memory, where love turns unreal and music becomes myth: “Sounds of the underground / Will echo in future days / Feelings of misery / Will fade into the haze.”

LP / CD / Digital Album

Posted on October 31st, 2021 under Releases, ,

Hide - Interior Terror

HIDE are an electronic duo based in Chicago. The pair create dark and heavy sample-based compositions using a combination of self-sourced field recordings and various pop culture and media references. Their music is textured, minimal, and powerful, giving raw vulnerability an opportunity to unfurl. Their work is honest, confrontational, powerful and thought-provoking.

HIDE’s third album, Interior Terror further abandons traditional concepts of song structure in favor of splintered rhythms and fevered, immediate release. Expanding on previous themes of autonomy and empowerment, Interior Terror addresses and questions the corporeal and immaterial body in a physical and metaphysical sense. Turning to the dread inside, reflecting on the world around us, HIDE gives voice to the power of destruction as a catalyst for hope, and to the collective experiences of those who’ve come before us as a wellspring of our own power. Raw vocal delivery of mantra-like prose issued forth yields a raging, plaintive wail that lulls, mocks, questions, proclaims and decries. A dearth of collected field recordings give way to more fluid arrangements while retaining a scathing urgency. The result is minimal, spacious, and jarring; a distant knocking grown into the pulse of a hypnotic dirge, drones emerge from shards of decomposed sound, bending, seething their way through your body.

LP / Digital Album

Posted on June 16th, 2021 under Releases, ,

ADULT. ‎– Perception Is/As/Of Deception

ADULT. make a triumphant return after their 2018 album This Behavior, dubbed “…one of the best records of their career…” by Ryan Lathan of Pop Matters. This chilling continuation takes the form of Perception is/as/of Deception, an anxiety fueled cyclone of pandemonium that only ADULT. would know how to harness. While This Behavior was recorded in the isolated snow-covered woods of northern Michigan, Perception is/as/of Deception was given life in a temporary space the duo created by painting their windowless basement entirely black, with the sole intention to deprive their senses, question their perceptions, and witness the resulting ramifications.

With over 23 years and a sprawling discography left in their wake, Adam Lee Miller and Nicola Kuperus have spent their entire career as ADULT. obscuring any defined genre or style. With a history as uncanny as ADULT., the pieces that make up Perception is/as/of Deception might be perceived as their most punk-infused and introspective work to date. The elements of frustration and apprehension that have consistently woven throughout their material are at full mast, although augmented by a strident and more “head-on” approach.

Tracks like Have I Started at the End successfully maintain the duo’s classic EBM signatures and synthesized aggression, cradled by a suspicious mantra that questions….what’s the point? Why Always Why offers a disorienting mutation of the heralded sounds of classic dance music, like a remix that escaped prison and is on the run. The dystopian anthem, Total Total Damage, comes in full force with an frantic energy which jolts any bystanders to attention, with only the defiant chants of Kuperus’ vocals outlining the ever-degenerating state of societal affairs. The dramatically glam synth parts scattered throughout the album, while at times ominous in nature, seem to also act as a merciful reminder that through the journey of Perception is/as/of Deception, one can still enjoy the chaos.

With the rampant sense of emptiness on the minds of many these days, there continues to be few attempts at scoring these common, unfortunate human qualities with pure sincerity. Thankfully, ADULT. has a long-standing reputation for creating the soundtrack for our insecurities, and Perception is/as/of Deception further solidifies their apprehensive position.

LP / Digital Album

Posted on June 15th, 2020 under Releases, ,

Riki

Riki is the Los Angeles based dark synth-pop outfit commandeered by the mysterious Niff Nawor, a visual artist and musician active in the deathrock / anarcho-punk scenes of the California bay area (formerly a member of Crimson Scarlet), before founding her solo endeavor as Riki in 2017. Niff’s desire to explore her own sound manifested in the recording of the Hot City cassette tape in 2017, which featured Chelsey Crowley of Crimson Scarlet, Skot Brown of Phantom Limbs and Peđaof Doomed to Extinction. Released on Commodity Tapes and later reissued on vinyl by the well-regarded Symphony of Destruction label, Riki followed the release of the single with several small tours and festival dates, performing with such acts as Light Asylum, Black Marble, and Trisomie 21.

For her self-titled debut album for Dais, Riki explores courage, physicality, and romance across eight timeless synth pop anthems. Produced and engineered by hardware-based synthesist Matia Simovich of INHALT, influences and ideas are worn proudly without deviating from fresh and daring electro-pop territory. Nostalgic cues can be heard ranging from Neue Deutsch Welle, early Adrian Sherwood productions, classic ZYX Italo Disco, Japanese Visual Kei and even classic new wave/pop like Pat Benatar, Kate Bush, and early Madonna.

The lead single, Napoleon, contains Riki’s indelible sound design, reminiscent of 80’s New York dance floor electro-pop that recalls the fusion of uptown and downtown styles and culture, told through Riki’s present day West Coast narrative. For contrast, the second single entitled Böse Lügen (Body Mix) was previously released in demo form and re-mixed to emphasize its commanding presence and addictive nature. Translated simply to “Wicked Lies” and sung completely in German, Böse Lügen moves away from the upbeat romanticism found throughout the album and commands serious self-reflection guised within an infectious dance floor anthem.

Riki invites listeners to “reveal their useless habits of complacency and fear…and witness their own rebirth, a rhythm universal”.

LP / Digital Album

Posted on April 29th, 2020 under Releases, ,

SRSQ ‎– Temporal Love / Unkept

SRSQ is the solo project of singer and songwriter Kennedy Ashlyn, the founding member of the bay-area dream pop duo Them Are Us Too. SRSQ’s pulse began after the loss of Kennedy’s closest friend and Them Are Us Too collaborator, Cash Askew, in the tragic Ghost Ship fire of 2016. Driven by this sudden, heartbreaking loss, SRSQ became the vehicle for Kennedy’s transformative process for her to explore nostalgia, reflection, and reconciliation, manifesting in the aural landscape of her 2018 debut album, Unreality.

It’s been a year since the release of Unreality and 2019 has taken SRSQ around the world, touring extensively with Black Queen and Uniform, sold out performances in support of Cold Cave and Godflesh, and upcoming tours in support of Torche and label-mates Drab Majesty. Amid performances and writing in preparation for her upcoming 2020 album, Ashlyn went into the studio with producer Jorge Albrecht, who mixed down two new tracks featured on the 7” single Temporal Love b/w Unkept.

Wrapped in ethereal gauze and dreamlike textures, what SRSQ presents on this single are undeniably love songs. Wrought with longing, Ashlyn commands on “Temporal Love”: “Kissing you once more could not erase the time, wishing it was the same as it ever was…” her ethereal, soprano-like voice weaving effortlessly through soaring electronics as if the structure of the song itself is her creative playground. Joined in duet by True Body vocalist Isabel Moreno, “Temporal Love” conjures images of heartbreak and a relationship dissolved – perhaps regrettably. The B-side, “Unkept” presents an almost ceremonial incantation channeling the likes of Lisa Gerrard’s finest moments. Stirring in echoes and reverb, Ashlyn emerges alongside a slow and steady beat – rising and building: “Speak softly, my love” to create the perfect counter-balance to the dreamy pop sensibilities of “Temporal Love.”

7″ / Digital Album

Posted on March 15th, 2020 under Releases, ,