Release Date: Sep 18, 2015
Record label: Merge
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Club/Dance, Indie Electronic, IDM
"It's not Americana, house, techno, trap, juke, or blaze," Kurt Wagner wrote in a press release regarding his new project, HeCTA. "Why would it be?" Well, after two decades of making records with his group Lambchop, it's no great shock that some of Wagner's fans would expect something resembling the graceful, willfully eccentric Southern chamber pop that's been his calling card, so the fact HeCTA is clearly not Americana might puzzle a few folks. But as for that list of electronic subgenres, Wagner is certainly taking his followers someplace they may not go of their own volition; HeCTA's debut The Diet dives deep into electronic frameworks and textures, with the unrelenting pulse of sequencers pushing the songs forward as shimmering keyboard lines, deeply processed vocals, and distant-sounding instrumental samples dodge in and out of the mix.
Using modern technology to make music that decries the effects of modern technology is a tried and true pop music irony. But such a familiar approach doesn’t make HeCTA’s “Sympathy for the Auto Industry” any less effective, or affecting. As moody, minor-key synthesizers cascade over a pulsating electro-rhythm that falls somewhere between Georgio Moroder and Kraftwerk, Kurt Wagner waxes ambivalent about our hyper-accelerated culture.
Lambchop’s best moments have often come from infusing their distinctive sound with others – perhaps through remixing, or the odd placement of a sound or phrase. On this new side project from three of its members – including frontman Kurt Wagner – they take electronica as their starting point. Early quotes from Wagner bluntly told fans to deal with this new direction (albeit with tongue definitely in cheek), but, really, in this era, who gets freaked out by sharp changes in direction? As a result, The Diet sounds all at once exactly right and a bit wrong.