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This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Xeno and Oaklander August 5, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Xeno and Oaklander – aka Liz Wendelbo and Sean McBride – have shaped a synth pop approach which combines a danceable if not quite dancey openness with an oddly austere rigour. Or perhaps I’m getting that the wrong way about. There’s more than a a few touches of techno and even IDM littered around the place to the extent that the pop aspects are often muffled.

On Topiary, released only last year, there’s an immediacy to the pieces – partly due to Wendelbo’s vocals (previously these were shared with McBride) which underpin them.

You’re almost certainly heard something like Virtues and Vices before, but perhaps never quite so elegantly constructed. Tracks like Marble, the aforementioned Virtues and Vices and Chimera flow neatly, melodies deconstructed very slightly in order to avoid familiarity (weirdly that last reminds me of Love and Rockets precursor Tones on Tails – at least in respect of the vocal phrasing). On the other hand a more electronica sensibility appears on Palms in relation to the percussion and instrumentation. Chevron’s synth sweeps rise and fall and then are done away with entirely before returning. Worldling Worlds builds and builds and so on. One particularly strong aspect is the use of atonal percussive sounds throughout that while sparsely applied afford the music a spaciousness it would otherwise not have.

I’m always intrigued by how music like this is characterised. There are strands of synth pop, post-punk, shoe gaze, electronica and so on (some tracks hint at a more synth-oriented Lush). I see Allmusic covers all bases with Indie Electronica/Cold Wave/Alternative/Indie Rock. Yeah, that should do! It reminds me of an article in Prog magazine the other day (oh yeah, I’m out there on the cutting edge) where Jane Weaver – mentioned here only a fortnight ago – noted, reasonably, that where she was once spoken of as doing folktronica now suddenly critics had found a kosmiche vibe in her work, to her bafflement. I think it’s understandable in a way, this need to categorise, but it can be somewhat artificial and some way distant of what musicians themselves perceive themselves as doing.

Anyhow, recommended. And, like a lot of recent albums, commendably speedy at 30 minutes.

Virtues and Vices





1. GW aka Tankgirl - August 5, 2017

As a paid up crypto-tanker I awaited with great excitement, not to say engorgement, the photoset of the year – yes, the Vlad Putin holiday pics.

And the Slavic hunk has not let us down this summer, as you can seen here. Old fellas with some of their own hair, not a hint of a fake orange tan, and smelling slightly of trout – what more could a girl hope for?

Compare him with what the decadent west has to offer – if yer man in the golden tower tried spear-fishing for carp all you’d get was a few expiring bubbles and a toupee floating folornly on the surface of the lake.

Perhaps if I fulfill my propaganda targets this year, Vlad will take me with him to Siberia next year. One can but dream.


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