Jun 032016
 
Xeno & Oaklander new album Topiary out today
Announce album release show at Brooklyn’s Palisades on June 11
Xeno & Oaklander Topiary Album Stream
[Stream via Spotify / Apple Music]

Xeno & Oaklander “Marble” Music Video
[Watch via YouTube]

“With gorgeously layered sequences and a rubber-band drum-machine beat, “Marble” is deceptively all moody atmosphere, but [Liz] Wendelbo’s voice drips and warps like a Dali painting, giving the song elastic movement.”
– NPR

“It’s a warm breath against your neck when you’re bracing against an ice storm.”
– Pitchfork

Maybe the murder of screeching crows that surrounded Connecticut’s Clubhouse Studio—turning all the trees jet black—was a sign that something was up with its latest tenants, Xeno & Oaklander. Well, that and the lunar eclipse that lit the starry night sky while Liz Wendelbo and Sean McBride plowed through another propulsive minimal-synth piece called “Palms.”

“We’ve always referred to our synths as elemental,” says Wendelbo. “Fire is what powers energy, voltage, and electricity. Electromagnetism is electric energy, like lightning in the sky. We control it with potentiometers and buttons; we shape it with filters and envelopes.”

That explains why Xeno & Oaklander’s music has always felt so alive, the result of chemical reactions at its core and chain-linked keys that rattle, hum, and howl. The duo’s fifth album, Topiary, is no different; taking its title from hand-sculpted gardens like the stately grounds of Versailles and the highly ornamental Levins Hall, it’s an enchanting listen, welcoming you into its self-made world with warm synth washes, moody chamber melodies, and Wendelbo’s haunted yé-yé hooks. (Topiary is the first Xeno & Oaklander album McBride—a.k.a. solo artist Martial Canterel—didn’t sing on, although his plush keyboard parts more than make up for it.)

As catchy as they are discomfiting, Wendelbo’s lyrics read like poison-tipped poetry, led by lucid passages like the following “Palms” excerpt:

The palms at night move in the light
The moon is blue
Strobes of delight
Symphony by the sea
Timpanies and mythology
The ships at night sail in the dark
The clouds glide through a ray of light
Symphony by the sea
Timpanies and mythology

Much like their seamless live sets—which have won over contemporary art crowds, underground dance clubs, and painlessly cool indie kids—songs bleed into one another, too, becoming moving parts of one streamlined organism, textured and orchestral at every turn. To reinforce the duo’s self-aware sequencing, each side of the vinyl pressing is even bookended by a striking pop song and opulent instrumental. Another reason it’s so fluid is the fact that Xeno & Oaklander broke out of their comfort zone by transplanting their synth-flanked Brooklyn space to a pro setting: Tom Tom Club’s longtime studio, the Clubhouse.

“We began from a kind of Year Zero,” explains McBride, “nothing written, nothing recorded, just a bracketed amount of time in which to compose, arrange, record, and mix the album. For me, this was a highly inspired month—living and breathing music from sun up to moon up.”

Topiary’s artwork echoes its electromagnetic themes as well; Wendelbo based it on a blown-up X-ray of protein molecules, shot through an electron microscope—a form of crystallography. Or as she puts it, rather cryptically, “What is deep inside of us is a reflection of what is above us. And electricity runs through it all.”

Tour Dates:
05.03 Vienna, AT @ Rhiz
05.07 Bratislava, SK @ Subclub
05.14 Leipzig, DE @ Wave Gothik Treffen Festival
05.19 Antwerp, BE @ Der Kleine Hedonist
05.20 Paris, FR @ Petit Bain
05.25 Rennes, FR @ Bar’Hic
05.26 Bordeaux, FR @ Café Pompier
05.28 Madrid, ES @ Club 33
06.11 Brooklyn, NY @ Palisades w/ Boy Harsher, Public Memory

 

Tracklist
01. Marble
02. Virtues and Vice
03. Baroque
04. Topiary
05. Palms
06. Chevron
07. Chimera
08. Worlding Worlds
09. Topiary II

Pre-order Topiary at The Ghostly Store
Or at the retailer of your choice via Linkefire