New York duo Exitmusic first garnered attention in 2008 with the release of The Decline In the West, a moody mixture of electronic and post-punk sounds that found them compared to both Radiohead and Portishead. And the fact that their name, likely not coincidentally, is also the title of a song by the former certainly wouldn’t dissuade anyone from making the connection. But the band isn’t so much connected to spacy British prog as the more recent efforts by Portishead, which tend more toward the ominous and the dense. This is darker, more post-punk inspired music, and though their debut might have arrived before “nü-goth” was on every critic’s lips, the release of new EP From Silence has come at a particularly opportune time for darker, atmospheric music.
Exitmusic doesn’t necessarily have a strong sonic connection to artists like Bat for Lashes or Zola Jesus, but their moody, ominous dream pop certainly puts them in a similar category, at least in terms of general aesthetic. The four tracks on From Silence are effects-laden dream-pop dirges, built up from slow moving parts into dense but melodically interesting machines of bummed-out momentum. Singer Aleksa Palladino moans mournfully over leadoff track “The Sea,” which becomes a writhing, crashing beast with the addition of booming drums and noisy guitars. Meanwhile, “The Modern Age” takes a more subdued tack, despite Palladino’s guttural warble, and “The Hours” displays a gentle twinkle, moving away from the harsher sounds that preceded it.
At times From Silence can be a beautiful and mesmerizing work of art, and at others an uncomfortable, even ugly beast of a thing. That ultimately is what makes it both special and frustrating. Lovely textures run throughout the course of this EP, as do some equally captivating melodies, but the band seems just as interested in giving the listener harsher bits of dissonance to chew on before receiving those more palatable treats. On an album format, this kind of balance just might stretch out to something truly impressive, but the fractured, juxtaposed take here has more potential than reward.
Stream: Exitmusic – “The Sea”
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.