PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

oOoOO and Islamiq Grrrls' 'Faminine Mystique' Is a Hypnotic Merger of Artificial and "Authentic" Cues

Photo courtesy of the artists

oOoOO and Islamiq Grrrls' Faminine Mystique succeeds because it sustains a curious and unique mood and combines proudly artificial signifiers with others associated with authenticity.

Faminine Mystique
oOoOO / Islamiq Grrrls

Nihjgt Feelings

18 May 2018

The new album from oOoOO and Islamiq Grrrls is post-Internet genre agnosticism that settles on a sort of digital version of roots-rock. Think The Basement Tapes, but swap the warm communalism of Big Pink with how we think of basements nowadays: hermetic places inhabited by digital-age degenerates, lit by sickly computer-screen light and redolent of rotting garbage and bong smoke. It's an effective and unexpected merger of rock 'n' roll with the proudly artificial, vaporwave-adjacent music that dominates the underground electronic world.

You might remember oOoOO as one of the leading lights of witch house, a movement whose mix of gothic indie rock and molasses-slow Southern rap makes more sense now than it did at the time. (He's not the only member of the coven to crawl back out this year; White Ring is prepping their official debut for June 22). Islamiq Grrrls from Los Angeles is a relative newcomer; though no one knows her name, it's a relief to learn she's actually a Muslim woman.

Together, they've made a hypnotic and exceedingly strange record that casts a gothic pall for a surprisingly fleet 49 minutes. The dominant instruments are guitar, solemn pads, a MIDI piano preset that I'm pretty sure is "Bosendorfer Piano Classical" on Logic Pro, and the two artists' voices, tangled in Auto-Tune. Contrasting with these sterile arrangements, the guitars have an alluring country grit, especially as "All of Me" bursts from somber atmospherics into a hearty, faintly Southern rock arrangement that wouldn't sound out of place in a Breaking Bad spinoff.

"All of Me" begins with the same line as the jazz standard ("all of me/why don't you take all of me"), and indeed there's a curious referential streak throughout the album. "Be on Through" references Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" and ends with a pitched-down sample of the Eagles' "One of These Nights", a song whose transient vastness transcends its sleaziness and mood-wise isn't far from the songs on this album. And could the title of "Yr Love" be a reference to Holy Other's song of the same name, one of the crown jewels of the witch house movement?

It's hard to figure out the point of all these references—or even how sincere they are. It's a little frustrating when you can't tell if music is pulling your leg or not, especially in the post-Daniel Lopatin, post-James Ferraro age where sincerity and irony are often indistinguishable from each other. The Auto-Tune could be seen as a nod to that tool's ubiquity in chart music, and again it's unclear whether it's a sign of affectionate poptimism or a bitter joke at the fact that they're not pop stars. I'd gander the former, but the ambiguity raises these kinds of questions.

Ultimately, though, they're distracting and take us out of the spell the music casts into a more analytical world where we wonder about their intent. Even some of the genre nods feel like punchlines, like a micro-snatch of breakbeat on "Y're gonna Love Me". Breakbeats are undergoing a controversial renaissance right now in dance music culture; both of the collaborators on this record are based in Berlin, the world capital of underground dance music, and it's not unlikely they've overheard conversations about this age-old sound's return to glory.

Faminine Mystique doesn't succeed because of its references or because of any attempt at culture jamming. It succeeds because it sustains a curious and unique mood and combines proudly artificial signifiers with others associated with authenticity. There aren't a whole lot of albums that sound like this, and it's hard to say why oOoOO and Islamiq Grrrls weave in all these bits and pieces from other worlds when the world they create is so endlessly explorable.

7

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.

Film

Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.

Music

Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".

Music

John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.

Music

The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.

Music

Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.

Music

In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.

Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Music

Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.

Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.


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.