Ambivalent, violent, and confessional, this disturbed slow-dance of an evening will leave you with bruises, nevermind by what sweet blows they were rendered. Two singular acts interpret the detritus of modern-day culture through pointed vignettes full of loneliness, brutality, and dark lust. Whether using samples, or live, spoken word, the fictions woven by both projects are amplified by powerful soundtracks informed by the dramatic effects of contemporary expressionism through to American TV soaps. Both create tense, narrative-driven atmospheres charged with an undercurrent of latent aggression built up from the repeated accretion of failure, via samples of familiar sounds, free roaming experimentation, and arresting lyrics that conjure troubled characters from daily life. Combining the best of both their artistic domains, Oxbow’s Eugene S. Robinson (lyrics/voice), and Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart (music) join forces as Sal Mineo, a project inspired by the actor of the same name, who played opposite James Dean in “Rebel Without A Cause” and was brutally murdered in 1976. Much more about failure, in Hollywood Babylon and otherwise, than about a now almost forgotten rise, their show ranges from bursts of noise to passages of pure, suffocating silence that antagonise and entice. Stewart’s multi-instrumentalism and obsession with structural chaos/clarity propels Robinson's forceful yet restrained vocal performance, cracking rooms in two and making you feel as if you’re caught at the wrong end of a weapon: “Everybody’s nice when they’re holding a gun”. (Xiu Xiu + Eugene S. Robinson: Sal Mineo) Centering on a violent breakup, Dean Blunt’s album The Narcissist II charges the atmosphere with a series of vignettes revolvingaround the fundamental inability to communicate and the refusal to compromise. Scenes of domestic violence, marked by obsessive masculinity and race trouble, intensify as angry verbal lashes escalate into yelling matches, evoking a terrifying anticipation of abuse and the helpless desperation that lies between the “might” and the “could”. This tension is charged to the point of explosion through a soundtrack rife with thunder and torrential rainfall from a heavystorm, slamming doors, and bold and dramatic synth lines. A series of blissedout, delicate, cloudy slow jams provide a few much-needed moments to exhale. The intense fascination conjured by The Narcissist further intensifies into be wilder ment as Blunt’s reticence to divulge any opinion on the worlds he evokes becomes frustratingly apparent: “The Narcissist II, at almost every turn, refuses toreveal its stakes, forcing the listener to ask themselves what it is that Bluntwants them to take from this record.” (The Liminal) Harrowing and evasive, the musical and emotional non-compromise of both these acts summons a truly isolated cast of characters –the Monadic Many.
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