Friday, April 29, 2011
OSCILLATIONS: YOU TODAY by Martial Canterel
This is the second CD by Sean McBride, one half of Xeno and Oaklander, the electronics duo from Brooklyn (where Wierd Records is located, and whose roster of artists is spearheading the current Coldwave revival). While the cover art of YOU TODAY (2011) is highly reminiscent of the monochromatic, classically ordered architecture of releases by Xeno and Oaklander, its depiction of an empty internal space betrays the tension of expectations cloaked in passivity. While its title may suggest a personal connectivity, the lyrics and vocal delivery are deadpan and distant, almost oppressive in their heavily reverbed mystery. Strangely enough, I found this approach both repellent and seductive, as I strained to glean meaning from words hidden beneath layers of impeccably arranged and played analogue synthesizers. Here is a world in motion, quite unlike the quietly beautiful room of the cover design, whose stillness belies the frenetic sequencers and drum machines that populate McBride's compositions. What is truly amazing about his solo and group work is that there is no Midi or computers involved, everything is recorded in a tiny Brooklyn apartment, live to what I assume is tape. The irony is that this detached music relies entirely on touch, on turning knobs and pushing sliders without recourse to digital perfection, the weight of its imperfections both its theme and its method.