Death By Platypi – Luminescent Properties – Review

Death By Platypi - Luminescent PropertiesResurfacing after a two year hiatus, electro-circuitry band Death By Platypi is about to release its new album, Luminescent Properties. Based in Durham, NC, band creator Drew VanGoghmez gathered a group of talented cohorts to help produce the new tunes for the album.

Death By Platypi – Luminescent Properties

“Program Of The Eye” starts off with a voice scowling, “Lies!” while a shrill guitar solo rings out like a call to a distant void. The lyrics are an anti-authoritarian anthem, using technology as a metaphor for how things aren’t always as they appear in modern society, yet we are required to be a part of it all the same. After the phrase, “What’s the object of the game, Will others see the same, Maybe now if I flee,” VanGoghmez’s vocals hold out on a long note in an exasperated scream — the instruments pausing for a brief moment afterward to let the note ring out fully before diving back into the chorus. What sounds like a bridge becomes the ending, and it brings things down in volume offering a sense of release and spatial contrast coming out of the rest of the song, like a spirit being set free from the body. The song burns out at the end, using the guitars and drums to create textures that sound similar to a computer circuit fizzing out.

A more upbeat, almost pop leaning song (if you can even say that about this band) than the other tunes on the album, “No Van Gogh” is a giddy love song sung in pixelated harmony with a bouncy rock beat underneath it. The vocals have a teenage-like, hard vowel delivery that creates a nasally sound, accompanied by the same melody in an electronic fuzzy synth timbre. Short but sweet, this song is a much-needed shift toward positive energy in this album. The lyrics have a youthful, naïve essence to them, with innocent notions of sharing one’s feelings for someone in a love letter. The title of the song is basically saying, “I’m No Vincent Van Gogh,” but I really like you and want to share this piece of myself with you.

“Phobionic” features a thumping bass drum and clave to start easy — the distant shock waves from an electric guitar phasing in and out until the sheeny wash of vocals trickles into the mix. VanGoghmez’s vocals are very heavily dowsed with electronic flutters and computerized effects. Whispers of synthetic butterflies shutter in the background while other electronic textures pump and pulse in a slow spiral around the center. Just as captivatingly and mysteriously as this song appears in time and space, it then dissolves back into a silent oblivion before you realize what’s happened.

A purely instrumental song that samples snippets of prerecorded clips, “Pitch” is all about the scratched vinyl, accompanied by a snaky bass line with off-kilter notes, and a steady drum beat to keep all the chaos together and give everything structure. VanGoghmez uses the development in the vinyl scratching to play candid clips of previously recorded lyrics by another artist. You can feel the music ease into an instrumental chorus led by the slide of the bass and crashing drum cymbals. Suddenly the bass line creates a “woo-woo” whistling kind of noise that sounds like a nod in conversation like, “Mmhmm.” This song is a dialogue between the DJ and bassist, mediated by the drums. Finally we reach the release of the instrumental chorus one last time at the end to give things a sense of completion, bookended by the snare beat from the very beginning of the song.

“Roll” caps off the album with a warbled and heavily distorted guitar melody that quickly shifts upward into a shuck-y kind of groove. Psychedelic, spiritual, and heavy yet gazing upward, VanGoghmez once again uses scratched vinyl audio clips to get their message across, which is that technology is used to deceive and control us in our daily lives. The bass creeps along underneath the thrashing of the guitar, keeping pace with the drums while the guitar line develops into a quickly tapped “widdle-y widdle-y” arpeggio. This song is one long arch, beginning with an exposition, curving upward and forward into overdrive, and eventually descending back into a faded crest of sound waves.

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