The new Exray’s record is built through the band’s obsession with the dystopian visions created by the likes of William Burroughs and Philip K. Dick. The duo’s electronic construction has always carried a gene of doomed reality, a sense of musical repression, but now we are all under the control of the state.
Opening with what sounds like a doomed 80’s sci-fi instrumental, the San Francisco duo tap into a world of analogue wired synths. Some of these sounds could be lifted from retro arcade machines. The beats are never complex, more just machines for time: within the haunted sadness of Ancient Thing they rumble a little lower while the distorted vocal and inbuilt lo-fi brings the interference.
While nothing on Trust a Robot could be described as upbeat, there are glimmers of lowly lit escape routes. On Reality almost has a swing in its rhythm, which, aligned with the electric organ, hints at The Doors at their most inward.
Dark / Light is the standout, maybe because it utilises a female vocal (that of Sandwitches’ Heidi Alexander), or maybe because it has a guitar line and backbeat that could be ripped from some old school hip hop demo. Whatever the reasons, it sustains the tension Exrays have honed so effectively yet finds a new way to deliver the message.
When You’re Lost is almost as good – it buzzes with staccato bass notes while the vocal is the most tuneful and emotionally deep the band has yet mustered.
With the grit left in the production, Exray’s have a knack for sounding bruised and honest. You can sense a naturally occurring realism that isn’t easy to create with buttons and keys alone. If you’re in the mood for a lo-fi dystopian fix then Exrays are ready and waiting.