XAM Duo takes one member of Deadwall and matches him up with a Hookworm. Then the pair improvised their way down some infinite komische highways at high speed, producing shimmering electro-psych that stands comfortably apart from the ‘main’ projects of the members. CD / double LP editions on Sonic Cathedral.
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Really glad this one fell on my plate because I get to use the singular form of Hookworms, which I love doing. This kosmische duo contains a Hookworm, okay, we’re done, and a member of Deadwall, who both use time away from their guitar-oriented mains to make sparkly synth dioramas. Matthew Benn has already used his XAM vehicle for some pretty lovely sun-dappled krautrock experiments, but Christopher Duffin proves a welcome addition to proceedings and only makes the drone pop warmer.
Straight from “Proem”, this thing really shimmers. It’s a lovely thing to be able to do from the nether regions of kosmische, which might appear to many as having a fairly stoical history. But this is just nice -- its production expands like Tangerine Dream and Laurie Spiegel in space, as the ambience shifts but never bursts. “Pine Barrens” begins the duo’s age of rhythm, with floaty melodies provided a groove highway upon which to travel. It’s psychedelic but ever so clean, basically establishing its setting for the listener and then letting them coast on it.
You wouldn't think a modular synth and a lot of sax could make something this pretty together, but there you go. So nice to be here, wherever it is: word is that Duffin was scoring imaginary soundtracks with each song, and it shows in these pieces, which establish vivid landscapes despite their repetitive synth wash. The perpetuating melodies stretch out a nice narrative or two, but ultimately this record makes me want to kick back and breathe the cosmic air.
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