As the streets began to grow cold, and ice hung around the corners of the darkness in D.C., the much lauded cold wave/minimal synth night No Love Lost (which, full disclosure, I helped to launch) made a pact with the infamous Fan Death Records, to transport modern synth duo Xeno and Oaklander to the area.
Swept into the fray as well were prodigal newcomers Phonic Riot, one man entropy machine Death Domain, and long time NLL/FDR conspirators Screen Vinyl Image. But, before the revelries began, I was able to sit down for a few moments and talk to Xeno and Oaklander about their analogue world.
Though Phonic Riot are a relatively new name in D.C. (and the greater world I suppose), they slid onto the murky red stage at Velvet like a weathered hand to a worn glove. Both haunting a driving, they took the room, and carried it to the somber mood the night would require.
Things would only get bleaker for the ever-growing crowd, as Death Domain lurched into the next slot. Birthed from the dark mind of Adam Stroupe, Death Domain let loose songs like, Programmed Cell Death,” and “Ethidium Bromide,” stripping music down to it’s minimal core, leaving no room for hope.
If Death Domain injected a small virus of humanity into the room, then the antidote surely came from D.C.’s maximal shoegazers, Screen Vinyl Image, whose sensory overloading performances always leave fans in awe. This night would be no exception as the duo unleashed a barrage of lights and sound, to celebrate their reclusion back into the studio.
Well after the witching hour, Xeno and Oaklander slunk quietly onto the stage like janitors sent to pick up the pieces. Unloading enough electronic equipment to build a fully functioning version of the deathstar, Sean McBride and Liz Wendelbo went swiftly to work making order out of chaos so complex, they included their own mixer and sound checked from it, through headphones.
When each of their meticulous standards had been met, rays of synth began shooting through the room. Hearing Xeno and Oaklander recorded is entrancing enough, but to see them perform live is to be transported to another dimension. They powered through deep horizons of electronic haze to a–by this point–stuffed in crowd, before firing off into the second, hyper-intensified half of the evening. Fulfilling the prophecy in the abovementioned interview, the section of the program embodied the current driving direction of Xeno and Oaklander, as they tore through track after track. When all was said and done, all that was left to do was to identify the bodies.