Acclaimed Toronto-based psych pop act Absolutely Free — multi-instrumentalist and vocalists Matt King, Michael Claxton (bass, synths) and Moshe Fisher-Rozenberg (drums, synths) — is an offshoot of now-defunct experimental rock outfit DD/MM/YYYY, an act whose multi-rhythmic, boundary pushing raison d’être helps provide a springboard for Absolutely Free’s sound. The trio’s 2014 full-lengths debut, Absolutely Free. received a Polaris Prize nomination and received widespread critical applause from the likes of Pitchfork, The FADER, Stereogum, BrooklynVegan, Exclaim!, Under the Radar, PopMatters, AllMusic and countless others.
In their decade or so run together, the members of the Absolutely Free have cultivated and developed a long-held reputation for an unorthodox approach to both conceiving and performing music: Since the release of Absolutely Free., the Toronto-based psych pop act have released an array of multimedia projects and releases including 2019’s Geneva Freeport EP, which features U.S. Girls’ Meg Remy. And adding to a growing profile the’ve toured alongside the likes of Alvvays, Youth Lagoon and JOVM mainstays Preoccupations and shared bills with Beak>, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, U.S. Girls and Fucked Up.
Absolutely Free’s highly-anticipated Jorge Elbrecht-produced sophomore album Aftertouch is slated for a September 24, 2021 release through Boiled Records. Deriving its name from a the name of a synthesizer function, the album finds the members of the band “wanted to create an album that wasn’t bound by a physical ability to perform it live, to not only expand our palette, but also to consider the live performance as something completely separate.” Culling from myriad of influences including krautrock, New Wave, early electronic dance music, and an array of international psych and funk complications, the album sonically and aesthetically finds the trio shifting in, around and between analog and digital sounds, real and fabricated images while simultaneously reveling in and refuting the loss of tactility. Thematically, the album explores narratives of hegemony, grief and exploitation in the present while sustaining curiosity for the unknown post-everything future.
Aftertouch’s second and latest single, “Interface” is a cosmic and dreamily maximalist song. Featuring expansive song structure with glistening synth arpeggios, percussive and angular guitar blasts, a chugging bass line and an insistent rhythm paired and plaintive vocals, the song is centered around a dexterous bit of craft, as it features an accessible, pop friendly melody and an enormous hook. Sonically, speaking the track reminds me quite a bit of Amoral-era Violens — in particular, I think of “Trance Like Turn.”
Absolutely Free’s Matt King explains: “Written as a pseudo-love song that interludes between two versions of self, Interface recalls an adolescent summer where I spent every waking hour on early web-based chat programs, instead of going outside. Typical coming-of-age feelings of loss and confusion were further conflated by prioritizing an emerging potential of a new virtual identity more ‘real’ than a physical self.”
The recently visual for “Interface” by Aussie artist Benjamin Portas features a surreally vibrant neon color palette and features two young people connecting through internet chats in a dystopian world much like our own.