With a title like Execration Texts Vol. 1, you'd be forgiven for taking the debut LP of TZYVYX as the offering of a death metal band or a Pacific Northwest drone project. But this music—the solo production efforts of Heads on Sticks leader and Birds of Avalon bassist David Mueller—lives far away from such bleak, sunless scenes. He values glistening synth leads, kitschy vocal samples and understated percussion, elements that gel into a Balearic take on rave and ambient music.While Boards of Canada are often linked to sample-based music of this kind out of simple convenience, their trademarks of ominous nostalgia and analog fetishism hang heavy on TZYVYX's tracks like "Stermin'" and "Palm Wine." Even TZYVYX's recent performance at Hopscotch, for which Mueller set up several small television sets to screen hypnotic patterns, summons Boards' 2000 Warp Lighthouse performance, which incorporated a similar setup. But TZYVYX isn't just another Boards rip-off. These tracks seem both broader and more interested in actively engaging the audience. "Mockingbird IV" uses handclap-heavy percussion to make synth drones swing. "Date Palm" deploys a foggy synth backdrop and chopped-up vocal samples to reimagine the term "glo-fi."
Mueller has long been interested in experimentation, a quality immediately apparent in his oblong psych rock as Strange or in the mutated, beat-heavy rock of Heads On Sticks. Because of this will to aim ahead, minus the checks of a full band, his productions can vary in quality. Every song on ETV1 is compelling alone, but when they are stacked end-to-end, the lack of sonic cohesion starts to become a distraction. Compare the stark ambient techno of "Elephant Dreams" to the breezy brass reveries of "Dismal Nitch," and try not to fall into the gap between the two; such is the burden of a first release from a new outlet. But as an opening statement from a Raleigh veteran's new side project, Execration Texts Vol. 1 succeeds in piquing interest.
Label: Locus Recordings