Since the demise of his weirdo guitar pop combo Mint Chicks in 2010, Auckland native Kody Nielson's output has been somewhat scattershot. The talented Kiwi launched a psych-pop venture under the name Opossom, while occasionally collaborating with his brother (and former Mint Chicks co-founder) Ruban's acclaimed band Unknown Mortal Orchestra. However, in the years following the release of Opossom's lone LP, Electric Hawaii, Nielson found himself feeling disenchanted with the music industry and spent some time dedicating himself to visual art, painting a series of stark canvases that would eventually develop into the forlorn, sad-face iconography of his next project, Silicon.
Kody Nielson is “listening.” He knows your pain, and wants you to ”never be lonely”. That’s why he’s offered you his Personal Computer, a debut album featuring ten excursions in future-soul-funk that chart how 21st century technology has stepped in as your best friend and soulmate at precisely the moment your real friends and soulmates have been pushed many steps away. As your best friend this technology provides you with the perfect excuse to withdraw into yourself and remain locked in your apartment.
First Unknown Mortal Orchestra, then Tame Impala, and now New Zealand-via-Hawaii newcomers Silicon. The newfound thirst for electronic soul-funk moves amongst antipodean music-makers is so notable you half wonder whether local air supplies had been enriched with disco particles. If aspects of Personal Computer bring to mind Unknown Mortal Orchestra's melancholy mechano-funk opus Multi-Love, the reason may be genetic.
As both the artist and album's name might suggest, Silicon's Personal Computer does not feel particularly organic or home-grown. It doesn't even particularly feel like the work of a human being. This is the kind of music that Skynet would replace your entire iTunes library with after becoming sentient and hacking into the Apple mainframe. This is the kind of music Hot Chip's keyboards secretly make while the band are necking pints down their local.
Opening an album called Personal Computer with a clichéd robot voice sample isn't a great way of kicking things off, but thankfully the music on Silicon's debut quickly takes enough unexpected turns to lift it above the stereotypical electro-pop formula. The studio project of New Zealand's Kody Nielson, Silicon brings together disco influences with 80s soft pop, indie rock and a playfully experimental approach to production. Whenever it starts to sound predictable, he takes things in a completely different direction.