Sunday Synth Jam – Xeno & Oaklander

Sunday Synth Jam: Xeno & Oaklander perform a live retronica set and discuss their awesome collection of vintage synths in this episode of BOMBsessions:

The music of the Brooklyn-based group Xeno & Oaklander seems to come from an earlier time, when the beeps and whirs of the analog synthesizer began to creep up from the underground into the mainstream of pop music (or drag it down to the depths, if you prefer). The late ’70s and early ’80s synth music from which their work draws was a reaction to the sense of the alienation brought about by living in world that was becoming more and more digital. Sean McBride and Liz Wendlbo, the duo behind the project, still find these sounds relevant today, in both theme and means. Xeno & Oaklander excavate a forgotten music, re-imagining its forms for the present with a defiant and romantic nostalgia. Their debut album Sentinelle, out now on Wierd records, is a testament to their skill at “shaping electricity” and is overflowing with icy drones, oscillating tones, and excellent (and danceable) songwriting.

After an epic performance of “Preuss” (a title taken from the particularly noisy auto body shop adjacent to their studio), McBride and Wendelbo sat down with BOMBsessions in their Williamsburg “synth museum,” to discuss the poetics of their songwriting, the relation of their vocal lines to Derrida’s Glas, and moving contemporary music forward by digging into the past. Catch Xeno & Oaklander on March 5th at the Cameo in Brooklyn before they leave for a European tour.

See more about Xeno & Oaklander at their site.

8 thoughts on “Sunday Synth Jam – Xeno & Oaklander

  1. Nice song. Good to hear some people who put the classic analog equipment to good use. The video could have done without the pseudointellectual blabber and the gratuitous shots of a book about metaphysics though.

  2. Yeah, good music to be listening to on a sunday morning / afternoon (I'm still somewhat sleepy ;-)). Not the kind I'd be wanting to dive into, but very enjoyable nonetheless.

    I thought the video was pretty good at showing that the playing of electronic music can be as involving to look at as instrumentalists in an orchestra. And I rather like the way they try to straddle some middle ground between academic and pop musics. I guess it can look pretentious as they talk either side of that book, but I think they're simply being honest about who they are rather than making grand claims for it…

  4. nice bit of post new wave

    its true that analog has that certain something you cant get with digital, but its much less apparent if you use lots of static type sounds.. interesting demonstrations of the ethereal qualities on display here

    P.S. – your roadie hates you

  5. I've nothing against academics, I'm one myself and live in an ivory tower most of the day. But while I sometimes use knowledge from that background in my music or as a source for lyrics I don't feel the need to talk about it. Art becomes boring when people start to rationalize what they are doing. Children may be cute when they come running with a picture they drew to get some recognition from an adult, but once children become adults and the drawing becomes a book about metaphysics (which I reject by the way, philosophically I'm with the empirists) the same scene becomes rather painful. Especially when you can put yourself in their shoes.

    (BTW, I get the first link (but writing books about a philosophy certainly has nothing to do with 80s synth music), but the second just shows a disambiguation page with nothing that seems overly pertinent to this issue.)

    1. Oh, I think they were just making a gesture towards why they named their band.
      I agree with you, though, that a piece of music first of all thought-out in words is a piece of music killed. My experience – at any rate – in music and architecture is that the best creative efforts are at best available to post-rationalization, never pre-…

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