- by Steve Reynolds Rating:8 Release Date:2016-11-04 Label: Sonic Cathedral
XAM Duo are a new outfit formed by Matthew Benn of Hookworms and Christopher Duffin of Deadwall. Both fellas have taken time from their daytime bands to put together six tracks of mellow electronica complemented by subtle blows of saxophone.
Benn initially instigated the album as a lone project but after finding the experience of playing solo a lonely one he found Duffin to put him at ease and add another angle as a duo.
‘Proem’ starts the proceedings and the low drone of minimal synths comes in at a very economic level with a maudlin and dark restless feel to it. Much similar in arrangement is ‘Pine Barrens’ but this time it resonates as a piece that wouldn’t be out of place from the Twin Peaks soundtrack with its sinister repetition and love for the irksome.
The modular synth sound they use is prevalent throughout the whole of their self-titled album and it starts to hit its stride on the 23 minute track ‘I Extend My Arms Parts I & II'. The synths remain dry and are a mere backdrop as the sax jumps on board with warm shades of delicate and mellifluous engineering for the first six minutes before an astral introduction of off kilter keyboard tinkering and visceral improv. They then continue to work off the hoof by a static repetitive drum pattern, stoked by a beautiful soaring synth refrain. They certainly aren’t afraid to utilise the amount of space in their arrangements by filling it with sounds that create an ever evolving listening experience for the participant.
Closer ‘Rene’ reminds me of the less brutal parts of Blanck Mass and the clipped smooth lines of electronica breed success instantly and for a brief moment it’s almost their dance song!
This album is perfect for the impending cold dark winter nights that await us and plugged into a set of earphones is the only way you’ll grab the whole XAM Duo experience and enjoy it to the max.