reviewed by Jeff McAllister
The INTERSTLLR EP boasts an odd combination of intimacy and dislocation. The album is unmistakably centered on Koko Bonapart’s vocals, but despite her prominence, there’s also a shocking amount of emotional absence. The album is so thick with production, so coated with ethereal gloss, that the effect is similar to examining a portrait that’s slight out of focus. The subjects – the lyrics and notes — are there, but the human behind them obscured by smoke and lights. It’s this interplay of presence and absence that dictates the mood of the EP. And in capitalizing on this duality, INTERSTLLR have produce a sub-15 minutes EP that’s loaded with tension.
What you’re actually hearing on the album is the bi-product of a trio from Guelph, Ontario. With a 1:1:1 mix of vocals, instruments, and production, INTERSTLLR are part of the new wave of bands to whom studio manipulation is more than just varnish on a finished product—it’s an essential feature of the work. The result is a druggish swirl of down-beat synth-pop that blurs the line between manual manipulation and electronic wizardry. Think Zero 7’s immortal stoner-jam, “Waiting Line,” updated for Jeff Bridges’ futuristic bachelor pad in Tron: Legacy. It’s too loaded with hooks to be mere mood music, but so passively palatable that, paired with at toke or two, INTERSTLLR could become the soundtrack to a trance.
Production-heavy or not, there’s more to INTERSTLLR than a series of keystrokes. Behind the blurred chord changes and crunchy procession, there’s a notable amount of jazziness to the arrangements – particularly on album standout “Devil Go Light.” And, when the filters give way, Bonapart’s voice contains a sexy amount of lounge-singer smoke. It’s not often that we’re given these glints of humanity but, used sparingly, they carry weight. There’s a moment toward the end of the album when the hypnotic chorus of “What’s Your Name” sputters out into barebones piano. And it’s here that the interplay between man and machine is most clearly exposed. Ironically, it’s in the dying bars of the album that INSTERSTELLR are also their most powerful, and their formula most affective. It’s here that we see how the most inorganic sounds can manipulate the most sincere of emotions.
Top Tracks: Devil Go Light; What’s Your Name
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) +*swoop*