Music

Naytronix: Dirty Glow

A plethora of cool sounds and intriguing timbres can't make up for repetitiveness and a lack of decent songwriting.


Naytronix

Dirty Glow

Label: Plug
US Release Date: 2012-10-09
UK Release Date: 2012-10-09
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

Throughout the 11 songs that make up Naytronix’s newest effort, Dirty Glow, listeners may find themselves reminded of another album: The Flaming Lips’ utterly brilliant Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. Indeed, the two albums share similar qualities, such as soft pop melodies, elegant orchestral flourishes, and interesting electronica/hip-hop foundations. To be fair, though, Yoshimi… is miles beyond Dirty Glow when it comes to songwriting and emotional power, but Naytronix’s sound is still intriguing -- well, for a little while, anyway.

Described as "an evil dance band cloned from the stem cells of multi-instrumentalist/producer Nate Brenner" by Brenner (presumably), Naytronix apparently aims to craft worked designed for "the sinister post-apocalyptic dance colonies that are on the verge of sprouting up around the world." In addition, he describes his sound as "Fashionable grooves [merged] with found sounds and homemade instruments to unsettling yet familiar effect, as humans play side-by-side with robots…" Of course, like just about every press release for a musical endeavor, a lot of this explanation is hyperbolic extravagance written in the hopes of making the music sound more valuable and the artist sound larger-than-life. In reality, Dirty Glow is a fairly unique record that impresses while it plays but leaves very little to remember in the aftermath. It’s a great example of how a ton of style can circumvent the need of substance.

"Hangin’ Out" starts the record off with a lot of grandeur. A funky and fun bass line provides the grounding for electronic melodies that would fit perfectly in a David Lynch film. Finally, Brenner harmonizes with himself nicely, giving the track a dreamy quality. Like most of the album, it sounds nice, but it feels very superficial. Similarly, “In the Summer” conveys the lavish cosmic energy of Super Furry Animals and Gorillaz. The track alternates between an almost standard gospel track and a futuristic instrumental. There’s also a touch of the Fiery Furnaces’ schizophrenic sonic changes, although they aren’t nearly as incredible here.

Surprisingly, "Baby Don’t Walk Away" managers to add a bit of barbershop a cappella to the mix, as well as an admirable level of feeling, while "Lead the Way", with its horns and overdubs, builds to a stunning crescendo. "Nightmare" features delicate, moving harmonies, and "Are You Ready for a Good Time" is arguably the most experimental and diverse track here. It features carnival-esque timbres and the playful warmth of most children’s shows’ theme songs. Finally, album closer "Evil Dancer" is very much inspired by disco; its robotic voices, staccato guitar work, stilted percussion, eccentric directions, and horn accompaniment make it the perfect to play at a vintage skating rink.

Dirty Glow is a bold record in that it maintains fully the unrestricted vision of its creator. Naytronix is definitely an artist whose creativity will either be fully realized or not realized at all -- there can be no compromise. However, while he is remarkable for following his vision to fruition, his sound is not as worthwhile. The songs here all feel a bit too similar, and in the end, all the bells and whistles in the world can’t make up for a lack of decent songwriting. Dirty Glow is fine for parties and the like, but it really won’t satisfy anyone looking for a more introspective, serious experience.

6

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less
10

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less
8

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image