Music

Nathalie Bruno Embraces Isolation on Drift's 'Symbiosis'

Symbiosis shows Nathalie Bruno (Drift.) wiping the mascara, leaving the dance floor, and striking out for solitude, occasionally dragging a few beats with her.

Symbiosis
Drift.

Tapete Records

19 June 2020

Nathalie Bruno had a revelation or two that lead to Symbiosis, her first full length under the Drift. moniker. In the past, the London-based artist helped create and re-mix songs awash in synthesized textures with her trio Phosphor. Bruno added her voice to Belgium's Luminance and their brand of 1980s-influenced dancey synthpop, and, as Drift., delivered a handful of EPs that also held sweaty hands with European darkwave and catchy layers of synthesizers. Those records, all released on Italy's Avant! label, added perfectly to their roster of abrasive, jittery dance music, sounds which are deeply rooted in early 1980s underground coldwave.

But Symbiosis shows Bruno wiping the mascara, leaving the dance floor, and striking out for solitude, occasionally dragging a few beats with her. Yet one listen to opening track "Masquerade 1" shuts that right down. Instead, we get a spidery, repeated keyboard phrase joined by what might be a bass line here, a lone guitar chime there, a gong crashing, and a synth-drone undercurrent. It lopes along creepily, the last track played by a DJ announcing the club is closing. "Human", suggests dance with its low-end keyboard burble and cowbell but found sound, whispers, and atonal noises keep it on edge.

Symbiosis was influenced by immersive experiences listening to Broadcast and Yoko Ono, as well as Bruno stumbling upon a copy of Klaus Schwab's 2016 book The Fourth Industrial Revolution. That's a read that can't help but feel a bit dystopian and isolating, even as it argues for harnessing the increasingly blurred lines between the physical and the digital. One track in particular, "The Orbit", speaks to this new disturbing unknown we are creating. A distorted, three-note death knell drives it as repeated knocking seems to come from a dank tunnel. If it sounds bleak, it's likely also to be therapeutic and finds common ground with the entrancing industrial thud of Throbbing Gristle or Third Eye Foundation.

Elsewhere on the album, she warns, "If you don't get what you like, then you better like what you get." There's something ironic about an album that reacts to the death of privacy with self-imposed quarantine naming itself after a term defining a type of dependency based on physical proximity. Even the cover, a black and white drawing done by Jack Solomon Smith, shows Bruno, alone in a crowd, staring ahead, surrounded by faces at once futuristic and grizzled.

But then it's perfect for an album that snips away at Bruno's post-punk-influences and replaces them with music informed by her isolation, where the rhythms play a supporting role, and disquieting textures instead assume the center. The title track, with its repeated stuck-needle jerk, like the sound a car tire misshaped by extreme cold might make as it awkwardly lurches down a hillside, is what we've got to dance to here. We might as well get used to it.

8
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

The Texas Gentlemen Share the Powerful and Soulful "Last Call" (premiere)

Eclectic Texas band, the Texas Gentlemen return with a vibrant, imaginative LP that resists musical boundaries. Hear their latest epic single, "Last Call".

Music

Vincent Cross Pays Tribute to Folk Hero via "King Corcoran" (premiere)

Gangs of New York-era James "The Rooster" Corcoran was described as the terror of New York's east side. His descendent, Vincent Cross, retells his story with a "modern dark fairy tale".

Music

Eddy Lee Ryder Gets Lonely and Defiant with "Expected to Fly" (premiere)

Eddy Lee Ryder explores the loss of friendship and refusal to come of age, cloaked in the deeply dramatic and powerful song, "Expected to Fly".

Playlists

Rock 'n' Roll with Chinese Characteristics: Nirvana Behind the Great Wall

Like pretty much everywhere else in the pop music universe, China's developing rock scene changed after Nirvana. It's just that China's rockers didn't get the memo in 1991, nor would've known what to do with it, then.

Film

Creative Disruption in 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire'

Portrait of a Lady on Fire yearns to burn tyrannical gendered tradition to ash and remake it into something collaborative and egalitarian.

Music

Fave Five: The Naked and Famous

Following two members leaving the group in 2018, synthpop mavens the Naked and Famous are down to a duo for the first time ever and discuss the records they turned to help make their aptly-named fourth record, Recover.

Evan Sawdey
Books

Fleetwood Dissects the European Mindset in His Moody, Disturbing Thriller, 'A Young Fair God'

Hugh Fleetwood's difficult though absorbing A Young Fair God offers readers a look into the age-old world views that have established and perpetuated cultural rank and the social attitudes that continue to divide us wherever we may reside in the world.

Music

Art Feynman Creates Refreshing Worldbeat Pop on 'Half Price at 3:30'

On Half Price at 3:30, Art Feynman again proves himself adept at building colorful worlds from unexpected and well-placed aural flourishes.

Music

The Beths Are Sharp As Ever on 'Jump Rope Gazers'

New Zealand power-poppers the Beths return with a sophomore album that makes even the most senior indie-rock acts feel rudimentary by comparison.

Music

Jessie Ware Returns to Form on 'What's Your Pleasure'

On What's Your Pleasure, Jessie Ware returns to where it all began, the dance floor.

Music

The Jayhawks Offer Us Some 'XOXO'

The Jayhawks offer 12-plus songs on XOXO to help listeners who may be alone and scared by reminding us that we are all alone together.

Music

Steve McDonald Remembers the Earliest Days of Redd Kross

Steve McDonald talks about the year that produced the first Redd Kross EP, an early eighth-grade graduation show with a then-unknown Black Flag, and a punk scene that welcomed and defined him.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.