Following on from the Par Avion album that surfaced on Ghostly last year, Xeno and Oaklander return to the scene of the crime with more towering pulses of synthesiser tone that peal out a kind of avant garde electro pop without the rhythm section. It's hugely atmospheric stuff that begins in more strung out, experimental territory as the tale unfolds over thirty continuous minutes, coalescing into heart-rending moments before melting away to a more obtuse kind of noise and back again. It's a piece that could have easily been broken down into component tracks, so distinct are the different phases of "Movements", but in the end this immersive start-to-finish listening experience is clearly what the tenacious duo were aiming for.
Xeno and Oakland have now become important players in the Ghostly International circuit, and their gothic take on synth pop and coldwave is always a burst of surprise and inspiration to us. This new album Topiary has a way of pulling you in that's totally unexpected from something of this nature; each song unravels a strange yet wonderful story, almost like love ballads these tunes travel with an electronic guise but they are very much poppy in nature. Most importantly of all, they are songs that can be enjoyed by many different listeners, from industrial fans to indie lovers who want something a bit different, this might well be the fix they're looking for.
Having worked together since 2006 as a duo with a healthy interest in new wave and synth pop, Xeno And Oaklander make the leap from a regular run of releases on Wierd Records to the wider pastures of Ghostly International where their mildly gothic tones sit comfortably. The sound across all nine tracks hangs together with a distinctly Human League flavour, from the boy-girl interplay of the vocals to the cascading arpeggios, but it's the gutsy pop nous that hits home first and foremost. Whether it's the more brooding fare of previous single "Par Avion" or the uptempo throb of "Lastly", these are songs to unashamedly sing along to.
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