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Saturday, 28 January 2012

Xeno and Oaklander - Sets and Lights LP 2011

I really don't know what to make of this...

Brooklyn based analogue synthesiser duo Xeno and Oaklander serve up some distinctly eighties flavoured delicacies on 'Sets and Lights'. Sadly, it has little of the warmth any of the eighties synth-pop megastars, but ends up sounding like a tinkly version of OMD with what can only be described as 'odd' vocals.

And that's where I begin to really love them. It's like a really stinky blue cheese with beautiful mellow white cheesiness, interlaced with blue veins of acerbic mouldiness. The beautiful minimal synth backing is the cheese and the blue veins are supplied by the vocal delivery of our heroes.

Imagine an early Depeche Mode backing track, make it more 'tinkly-winkly' then add the Xeno and Oaklander 'bitter' vocals. It's all a little on the creepy side, with the male vocalist sounding like a cross between the Danse Society and 'Nowhere Girl' by B-Movie, and the female equivalent sounding like the singing voice of that little girl out of The Ring crossed with the Ice Queen from Narnia. I'd like to say it's enjoyable, but it's not. But strangely it is too!

Allegedly they have single-handedly revitalised the New York's minimal electronics scene, which has to be applauded, but I can't see them doing much business in Barnsley. But who knows?

All the songs follow the same minimal 'plinky plonky' format and nothing particularly stands out, although I quite like 'The Staircase.' In truth, I like the concept of Xeno and Oaklander more than I like their music. They were apparently heavily influenced by the eighties Eastern-Euro 'Cold Wave' movement, which sounds intriguing, and may prove worth checking out more than this combo.

But then I hear 'Corrupt' or 'Italy' on my playlist and I love it!

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