What It Sounds Like: Indie guy/girl duo that spent one to many nights sneaking out of their parents houses, only to head to the park under the cover of darkness, lay on their backs, and wish for the end of the world. They give us claustrophobic tribal beats, electronics/synth, and droning bass that would make the likes of Joy Division and Charles Manson both proud at the same time.
Let’s start off with the bad: these freaking vocals.
Michael Bernstein and Maya Miller sound unwell. They sound like whatever ill notions that they have conceived in their heads have been eating them from the inside out. The worst track by far here is the album closer Decisions Are Made. While listening to it, I was waiting for one of them to simply kneel over and die. The vocals are so retching, I thought at first I mistakenly had thrown on the audio of some old school Saturday Night Live skit of Marty and Bobbi Mohan-Culp trying to entertain kids at a Resonance Fair.
They are not much better on the rest of the record, but have mercy, better than that album finale. Downstairs finds them trying to summon an achient spirit – maybe inspired about whatever has been stirring around down in the basement. Maya’s do do da da do do chat may be enough to make you snicker and say “what the crap is this?”, but it is somewhat interesting, and keeps your attention. Not in the way a car crash keeps your attention, but in the way a crudely drawn picture gets your attention – you need to keep looking to see what else you can find within its boards.
Michael’s vocals may be better than Maya’s, but who’s to really say here one way or the other? He sounds like the B-52’s Frend Schneider, only after smoking whatever it was that Kate gave him, and Cindy hitting him over the head with a baseball bat. His sprechgesang is more of an unsettling drone – out wandering through the back streets at night like a crazy person.
When these two trippy art house kids decide to bring a little more psych to the mix, things improve. Basement Watch (see, there is something in that basement!) finds us back in the 70s, lightheartedly jamming at Woodstock. On A Drive certainly gets a little long-winded to listen to on a record, but it would be perfect on a David Lynch film. The Storm continues with more of the same, while the best track here, Major Score, is a six-minute escapade into an underwater, haunted cavern. The hydro-electronics and sonar-esque soundscapes paint a terrifying picture. If only we could unplug Maya’s oxygen tank so her warbling maaaaajjjjooooorrrrr sscccccoooorrrreee addition (or, subtraction, in my book) would go away.
The music is somewhat interesting, at best. It’s not completely enjoyable, or something that most of us would want to hear all the time – but on occasion, it very well may fill the void.
If only we could get these two to shut those holes in their faces, we may make some huge strides.
If you had to listen to two tracks: Basement Watch / Major Score