Initially known for his work drumming in Marriages, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Clinco founded Drab Majesty back in 2011 as a way to create music as a solo project, with him recording every instrument himself. Clinco created the androgynous character Deb Demure for himself, as the face of the project. Alex Nicolaou, a.k.a. Mona D (keys, vocals) joined on in 2016, expanding the project into a duo.
Since signing to Dais Records, the Los Angeles-based duo have released three albums, 2015’s Careless, 2017’s The Demonstration, 2019’s Modern Mirror, which saw the project combining androgynous aesthetics and commanding vocals with futuristic and occult lyrics, to create a style and sound that the band’s Demure refers to as “tragic wave.”
Released earlier this through their longtime label home Dais Records, and clocking in at 32 minutes, the duo’s latest release An Object in Motion sits somewhere between an EP and mini-album while also marking a new chapter in the project’s story: Written during a 2021 retreat to the remote costal Oregon town of Yachats, the band’s Deb Demure leaned into the neo-psychedelic resonance of a uniquely bowl-shaped 12-string Ovation acoustic/electric guitar.
After early morning hikes in the rain, Demure would record ambient guitar experiments the rest of the day, tapping into “flow states,” in which he would let the sound lead the way. Those sessions were then refined or recreated and then later elevated with contributions from Slowdive‘s Rachel Goswell, Beck’s, M83‘s and Air’s Justin Meldal-Johnsen, and Uniform’s Ben Greenberg. Fittingly, the EP reportedly holds true to its title, as it captures Demure and Drab Majesty in a transitional state, and evolving while showcasing a series of potential futures from the project.
I’ve managed to write about three of the EP’s singles:
- The effort’s first single, “Vanity,” featuring Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell. Built around shimmering, reverb-drenched, 12 string guitar and gated reverb-soaked drum patterns. Demure’s plaintive yet commanding baritone is paired with Goswell’s imitable and expressive vocal, which seamlessly intertwine in an uncannily gorgeous, swooning harmony. To my ears, “Vanity” seemed like a synthesis of Lita Ford and Ozzy Osbourne‘s “Close My Eyes Forever,” Sisters of Mercy, Disintegration-era The Cure and Goswell’s work with Slowdive — or in other words, something that will warm the cold hearts of any goth.
- “The Skin and The Glove,” a lush, Smiths-meets-Slowdive/RIDE-like song built around reverb-soaked, shimmering 12 string guitar, a driving groove paired with the Los Angeles-based duo’s uncannily unerring knack for gorgeous harmonies and catchy hooks. But under the lush soundscapes is a song that thematically touches upon the endless march of time, and our inevitable mortality.
- Clocking in at a little over 15 minutes, An Object in Motion‘s closing track, the expansive “Yield To Force” is built around glistening, cycling strings, ominous slide guitar and shimmering synthesizer. The result is a composition that’s intuitive yet meditative with the instrumentation that spirals, sways, crests and ebbs like waves crashing into the shore.
Coincidentally, the EP’s last single “Cape Perpetua” is also the second instrumental track on the effort. Built around sparkling acoustic finger-picked guitar melody played through delay pedal, “Cape Perpetua” sonically is one-part brooding flamenco, one-part reverie, one-part raga with melodies and mood crash, congeal and dissipate throughout. The result is a something gothic, melancholy and cinematic.
Direted by John Elliott and shot on Super 8, the accompanying video for “Cape Perpetua” is a fittingly a brooding slow-burn that’s meditative, and mind-bending.
“‘Cape Perpetua’ is a slow-rolling track with tessellating psychedelia which inspired me to channel my Joseph Cornell and late-era Brakhage appreciation,” John Elliott says. “The goal was to capture simple objects moving in and out of stillness reflecting the ebb and flow of the widescreen guitar patterns. Upon discovering a partially dilapidated cemetery near my house, I found spinning pinwheels askew in the ground and late blooming flowers laced with synthetic flowers, all against a backdrop of partly cloudy skies and autumnal foliage. We explored this simple and profound surrealism by performing in-camera lap-dissolves and double exposures in an attempt to marry the ethereal magic of the song with the film we shot. The simplistic nature of Super 8 camera lenses paired with the imperfect nature of Super 8mm film creates a window into a world that feels like a distant cluster of memories, or a dream-like state complete with blurred edges and extemporaneous world-building.”