BEST NEW SONG: RY X - UNTOLD
The Acid member RY X gets emotionally vulnerable on new single "Untold."
English electronic outfit The Acid came to light as explorative innovators of the post-dubstep landscape. They were among the vanguard of artists pairing moody synthpop with angsty art rock and straight-ahead electronica. The mutant, multivalent children of Radiohead and Portishead, these indie/electronic hybrids blended the sci-fi futurist tendencies of electronic music - unique sounds, alien instruments, and non pop song structures - with something human and emotional.
That being said, there is a feeling of levitation or of critical distance with a lot of these early innovators, like coasting along on a hovercraft or walking on air. Artists like The XX or James Blake often sound like they're around the action, perhaps above it or beyond it but rarely in it. The steady pulse of 4/4 club beats approximate the sound of driving through a new place with the windows rolled up. You're seeing new things but not really taking it in. Or the gritty distortions and alien sound design of post-dubstep/post-techno pushing everything into abstraction. The sound of critical analysis as emotional avoidance.
Perhaps this is a reflection on how we relate to technology, alien and remote, instead of truly integrated into our lives. Rather than the android pop we've been searching for since OK Computer, usually we end up with augmented indie rock.
This has all been changing, in recent years, as producers and songwriters become more comfortable with their technological tools. Finally, these futuristic shadows and alien textures are being used to tell real, relatable stories that are all-too-human, that happen to be happening in a technological void.
RY X - UNTOLD
"Untold" is one of the finest examples of this synthesis We Are: The Guard have heard so far. Australian producer Ry Cuming explores a similar post-club pop music as artists like James Blake or Forest Swords. Unlike those artists, however, busy sound design and heavy concept don't detract from the core message. Both Blake and Forest Swords can end up sounding shellacked in digital presence, entombed in artificial reverbs and non-organic textures. Intimacy may have been the goal, but it's the intimacy of reading someone's Tumblr diary at 3 a.m. It's distant and remote and difficult to connect with.
"Untold," on the other hand, has all the delicacy of old lace. There's all manner of room to let the light shine through, via its stripped-down skeletal garage beat and simple piano motifs. These serve as the perfect setting to show up RY X's honeyed vocals, graceful as a Russian ballet, warm as October sunshine. It's an addictive, thrilling listen that grows on you with each repetition.
"Untold" is the lead single from RY X's new LP, Unfurl, due out in February. It's a bold leading statement. We Are: The Guard legitimately cannot wait to hear Unfurl in all of its glory.
J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.