Release Date: Jun 24, 2014
Record label: Ghostly International
Genre(s): Electronic, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, Cold Wave
As a staple of Wierd Records' roster, Xeno & Oaklander displayed an admirable -- and influential -- commitment to bringing coldwave and minimal wave-inspired sounds into the 21st century. Their debut, Vigils, introduced their frostbitten analog electronics and deadpan boy-girl vocals, and from there, Liz Wendelbo and Sean McBride have found small yet significant ways to update and expand on that aesthetic with each release. Since their sophomore effort Sentinelle, they've gradually let more air and light into their music without losing any of their intensity, a move that continues with X&O's Ghostly debut Par Avion.
Minimal electronic duo Xeno & Oaklander have crafted an exotic album inspired by their travels called Par Avion (French for "by plane"). The record is a unique blend that jumps from more ambient numbers to faster techno tracks, with both sides of the spectrum holding true to a trademark synth sound that hints at old school new wave influences and even a little dub. Xeno & Oaklander aren't modest or shy about their synth use; it's the main element in each of the nine tracks, slowed down and sped up to suit corresponding echoing vocals (both in English and French) balanced with distant, low-key drums.
"The interface has ruptured," sings Sean McBride on Par Avion's opening track. Trouble is, the music that supports McBride and co-lead singer Liz Wendelbo tells us quite the opposite: a vintage analog Serge synthesiser sprinkles pleasantly alien bleeps over a soft drum machine thump, like synthetic raindrops falling on a Tron landscape. If anything, it's a testament to a beautifully functioning motherboard.