Earlier this year, I wrote about the rapidly rising New York-based avant garde/experimental act Activity. Now, as you may recall, the act which features Grooms‘ Travis Johnson (vocals, sampler) and Steve Levine (drums), Field Mouse‘s Zoe Browne (bass) and Russian Baths‘ Jess Rees have received attention across the blogosphere for a natural, minimal and intelligent use of modern production paired with organic instrumentation.
Their Jeff Berner-produced full-length debut Unmask Whoever is slated for a March 27, 2020 release through Western Vinyl, and the album’s material reportedly sees its creators ability gel with one another to reach new levels of interplay and cooperation to form a menacing and uneasy framework — with which they pair lyrical themes of paranoia, exposed character flaws and the broader human capacity for growth when an ugly truth is laid bare. “Calls Your Name” was centered around an atmospheric, uneasy and menacing Geoff Barrow-like production featuring woozy and shimmering synth arpeggios, and a relentless stuttering beat paired with half-song half-spoken lyrics inspired by C.S. Lewis’ 1945 novel The Great Divorce.
“Earth Angel,” Unmask Whoever‘s latest single is slow-burning, minimal “Earth Angel.” Centered around twinkling synth arpeggios, blasts of feedback and distortion-effected pedals, the track features what may arguably be one of the most painful sounding vocals I’ve heard in some time, as vocalist Travis Johnson’s voice stars off as a whisper before turning into a vocal cord tearing shout.
It’s a song about the freedom of a lifelong love” vocalist Travis Johnson explains. “I think we were going for a very Talk Talk Laughing Stock vibe in general. The vocals at the end physically hurt to perform… I could taste blood.”