Over the past few years, I’ve written a lot about the Toronto, ON-born, Los Angeles, CA-based JOVM mainstay and electronic music producer and electronic music artist Robert Alfons, best known for his acclaimed recording project TR/ST. So far Alfons has released two critically applauded and commercially successful albums — 2012’s self-titled debut and 2014’s sophomore effort, Joyland. But interestingly his first two albums found Alfons taking risks and playing with his sound and approach: his self-titled TR/ST debut was largely considered dark, kinky and defiantly queer electronica while Joyland was bright and upbeat electronic dance music.
Five years have passed since the release of Joyland and during that period, Alfons wrote and recorded material in a secluded farmhouse in Southern Ontario and in Los Angeles, where he has since relocated. The recording sessions, which eventually became his two album effort Destroyer 1 and Destroyer 2 finds Alfons collaborating former bandmate, electronic music producer and electronic music artist Maya Postepski, who co-wrote and co-produced six of the entire project’s songs. Lars Stalfors and Damien Taylor were also enlisted to further refine the album’s overall sound — at parts industrial, at parts intimate and ambient.
Interestingly, one of the key ingredients behind the Destroyer‘s material was patience. “The environment I work in has always guided me. But it took a long time to submit to the kind of patience these songs were asking of me. I was getting glimpses of what I wanted to achieve with the album,” he says. “But it wasn’t feeling cohesive; things weren’t aligning in a clear direction.” Alfons realized it was a question of patience and perseverance. “My first two records were put out so close to one another that I think of them as one,” he says, “They just poured out of me.” With Destroyer, the process was entirely different. “It was so much more careful. I found myself seeking spaces of absolute quiet; I needed them in order to hear what was going on inside.”
And while both parts of the project sound different from one another, there’s a central theme throughout — the deconstruction of shame, expressed in raging industrial and machine-like clang and clatter, atmospheric and eerie quiet paired with introspective lyricism. “I think the biggest reason it took five years to write and rework so much material, is that I finally had to confront these feelings of shame that I had somehow been able to push aside for so many years, which explains why the album is so tumultuous” Alfons explains in press notes.
Slated for a November 1, 2019 release, Destroyer 2 as I mentioned earlier is a decided sonic departure from both its immediate predecessor and from his previously released work as the material consists of delicate, earnest and shimmering pop songs. “I think I took so many more risks sonically and emotionally on Part 2 of this record, for that reason this release has much more importance to me. I’ve spent much of the past five years writing and re-working these songs to get them to the state they are in” Alfons says in press notes.
Centered around twinkling keys, atmospheric synths and electronics, thumping drum programming and Alfons’ plaintive vocals, Destroyer 2‘s first single “Destroyer” is an achingly tender and intimate song that’s one part introspective and soulful confession and one part hook-driven, slickly produced pop.
Alfons will be embarking on a lengthy tour throughout the fall — and each of these tour stops will find him playing in much bigger venues than before. The tour includes a November 15, 2019 stop at The Knockdown Center. Check out the tour dates below.
31 Oct San Diego, CA -The Observatory North Park
1 Nov Los Angeles, CA – The Novo
3 Nov Denver, CO – Summit Music Hall
4 Nov Santa Fe, NM – Meow Wolf
6 Nov San Antonio, TX – Paper Tiger
8 Nov Houston,TX – White Oak Music Hall Downstairs
9 Nov Austin, TX – Levitation
11 Nov Atlanta, GA – Terminal West
12 Nov Durham, NC – Motorco Music Hall
13 Nov Baltimore, MD – Ottobar
21 Nov Brussels – Botanique
23 Nov Bern – Saint Ghetto
24 Nov Paris – Le Trianon