Throughout their 25 year history, acclaimed Detroit-based multimedia and electronic music production and artist duo ADULT. — the husband and wife team of Adam Lee Miller and Nicola Kuperus — have a sprawling catalog of material released through Mute Records, Ghostly International, Thrill Jockey, Third Man Records and a list of other labels that has seen the duo obscure and blur lines between genres and styles in a cohesive fashion within the album format.
“but for this we wanted something that’s falling apart.” Becoming Undone, ADULT.’s ninth album reportedly sees the duo explicitly aiming for that goal, while simultaneously rejecting and reflecting the planetary discord that inspired and informed it. Written between November 2020 and April 2021, Miller and Kuperus kickstarted the creative process through additions to the rig: a vocal loop pedal for Kuperus and Roland percussion pads for Miller. They also reconnected with some of their earliest influences including Test Department and Throbbing Gristle’s 20 Jazz Funk Greats, which helped spark a series of fruitful and frenetic sessions, centered on themes of impermanence and dissonance. “We weren’t interested in melody or harmony since we didn’t see the world having that,” ADULT.’s Miller bluntly reasons.
While there are still plenty of the dance floor bangers the duo is known for, Becoming Undone is also informed by deep, personal loss: Kuperus’ father died during the height of the pandemic, just before the duo were about to start working on the album. As his hospice caretakers, she and Miller faced the banality of finality, surrounded by objects drained of meaning — “the joy of having a body, but also the drudgery of having one,” they say.
The end result is an album that crackles with revulsion and dissent, and it seemingly equal parts exorcism and denunciation, centered around a breadth of vocal effects: Kuperus at times sounds alternately indignant and possessed, decrying the crimes, fears, and failings of a deluded, broken world. “Humans have always been pretty terrible,” Kuperus explains. “But every year the compromises of culture just accelerate.”
Late last year, I wrote about Becoming Undone single “Fools (We Are . . .)“, a glitchy and uneasy banger centered around stuttering beats, dense layers of arpeggiated synths paired with an unhinged and desperate vocal performance by Kuperus, who sings lyrics describing the sensation of being hopelessly stuck in a seemingly endless and foolish loop of the same ol’ banal, things while everything else around them collapses.
“I Am Nothing,” Becoming Undone‘s second and latest single is an abrasive yet accessible industrial techno banger, centered around arpeggiated synths, tweeter and woofer rattling thump, metallic clang and clatter paired with Kuperus’ desperate howls inspired by Detroit techno between 1992-1995, Suicide‘s Alan Vega, Swans‘ Micheal Gira and Malaria!‘s Gudrun Gut.
“The meaning of ‘nothing’ in the context of this song is not in regards to worthlessness, but of being lodged into something we can not understand and yet somehow accept it / or not accept it,” the acclaimed Detroit-based duo explain. “We are collectively living in liminality. And personally, we are more content currently to be in a state of nothingness.”