With: Xeno & Oaklander, Body Of Light
Drab Majesty is the solo project of Deb DeMure, the androgynous alter-ego of L.A.-based musician Andrew Clinco. With its combination of reverb-drenched guitars, synth bass lines, commanding vocals, and rhythmic drum machine beats, this project is a stark departure from Clinco’s previous stints as drummer in Marriages and Black Mare. Dubbed “Tragic Wave” and “Mid-Fi” by DeMure, Drab Majesty eloquently blends classic 80s New Wave and hints of early 4AD with a futuristic originality. Drab Majesty’s first release, a limited-edition cassette of 100 copies titled Unarian Dances, was self-released in 2012 and re-pressed by Lolipop Records shortly thereafter. Drab Majesty then signed with Dais Records and put out the debut LP Careless in 2015. Careless was met with high praise from critics and fans alike, and the original pressing is now a sought-after gem. A year after the initial pressings of Careless sold out, Dais released a compilation titled Completely Careless, featuring Drab Majesty’s entire discography, including two previously unreleased tracks.
A talented multi-instrumentalist, DeMure composes all of the elements of Drab Majesty. However, rather than taking personal credit for the music, DeMure insists that the inspiration for the songs is received from an other-worldly source and that Deb is merely a vessel through which outside ideas flow inward. But Drab Majesty is more than just a musical project — it’s a methodical experiment in the identity of creativity. The character Deb DeMure is an enigma that eludes all expectations of gender and ego. When DeMure’s imposing 6’ 4” figure assumes the stage, Deb’s playful, harlequinesque appearance, tempered by an ominous body language, and clashing with the dreamy, ethereal melodies comes across as a web of contrasts. The result is a perfect balance between seemingly conflicting messages, between the high and the low, the drab and the divine.
Xeno & Oaklander
As a musical act, Xeno & Oaklander (Sean McBride and Liz Wendelbo) conflate a rich love of analog synths, melody, and mythology with eloquent nuance and a nod to the heritage they draw from. While that construct is the duo’s immediate kiss and crush, there’s a deeper importance to their collaboration, which began in 2004. As evidenced in their debut Vigils (2004), McBride and Wendelbo’s artistic dynamic is more than just a mutual love for electronics but a contrast between architectural precision and painterly expression. From the film scores to the traditional albums they’ve recorded in their Brooklyn studio, they’ve both spurred and fostered the global synth wave revival through a commitment to analog-only production and performance as well as a strident respect for the medium.
On their latest album Hypnos and first for the Dais imprint, the duo leveraged the talents of visual artist and live sound engineer Egan Frantz to mix the album. It’s a touch that adds both punch and balance, allowing their inherent conceptual voices to converge into a collage with defined edges and warm, synapses of frequency and beat.
“Musically, Hypnos is a return to polyphony after several years of using strictly monophonic synthesizers,” McBride says about the album’s ethos. “This has brought dense harmonies and a more complex counterpoint to the composition. Staying with the same equipment and processes without the inveterate compulsion to update and refashion allows for a clearly perceivable genealogy with our previous work.”
“I felt the desire to tell mythical stories, I also wanted my voice to sit strongly in the mix,” Wendelbo explains. “I channelled the spirits of 60s French Pop chanteuse Françoise Hardy and 80s New Wave New York icon Tina Weymouth.” Her intentions are best evidenced on the tracks “Angelique,” and “Insomnia,” the former a spry track sung in French, against a springy rhythm. Laden with expanding and contrasting frequency and a penchant for strategic rhythm, Hypnos juxtaposes dance with distance, creating an immersive oeuvre that exudes contrast and control.