The ever-occupied Saxsyndrum have pulled an OutKast with their new EP on Art Not Love. As the band’s name implies, saxophone and percussion are the two main instruments featured in their music, as played by David Switchenko and Nick Schofield, respectively, just as Andre 3000 and Big Boi’s opposing forces make OutKast a whole.
In 2003, OutKast released Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, with one album basically being Big Boi’s and the other being Andre’s. SXD_EP is a similar idea — one half of the EP is based on saxophone samples while the other half is percussion. But where Big Boi and Andre 3000 had very different styles, Switchenko and Schofield have an electronic barrage that ties them together.
While the two instruments working together creates wonders (and even more wonders remixed), SXD_EP shows that they can be equally compelling on their own. Switchenko’s tenor sax creates a push and pull on the first half of the album. The deeper sounds of the sax add a sense of foreboding in opener “Maceonectar” contrasted by the bright and pulsating synths that accompany it.
“Tah Hum” acts sort of like a bridge in this half of the EP, featuring long, drawn-sax notes with the faintest hum of percussive electronics before transitioning into the craziness of “Yardbird Flutter,” a song that probably wouldn’t have felt out-of-place on Future Circus.
Schofield has the reins for the EP’s other half, which takes on a decidedly different tone. Here the percussion and electronics are less distinguishable, and the result is a rainforest of varied sounds, from bells to light drum taps to punchy synths, as first introduced by “Ararchnamis.”
“Lac Marsan” by comparison takes it easy, with little drum rolls that bring to mind the sound of rippling water. Its “calmness” eventually comes unraveled, just in time for “Zonko,” the strongest of the three tracks. It is constantly shifting between spooky and soothing.
Saxsyndrum will never cease to be interesting, and splitting themselves in half, so to speak, was an unexpected trick that makes SXD_EP work so well. What they’ll do next is really anyone’s guess.
SXD_EP will be out on November 4, 2014.
Top Tracks: “Maceonectar”; “Zonko”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) + *Swoop*