I can’t recall ever being so over-whelmed by a release one minute and then so utterly confused by it the next. Not the most stunning or imaginative introduction to an album review but about where I am with ‘Doldrums’ sophomore LP ‘The Air Conditioned Nightmare’ (as I currently sit slumped at my keyboard, scratching my head and still wondering how to approach an album I’ve now listened to fully nine times).
So, what could cause such an air of confusion? Well, Airick Woodhead (aka Doldrums) has somehow managed to pull together clear memorable melodies and park these upon a layer of industrial electronic instrumentation. Yes, yes … I hear what you’re saying “what’s new about that?” Well, this is like nothing you’ve ever heard. Just as you think you understand where a track is going it throws you an utterly unexpected curve-ball. Let’s look at ‘Loops’ for example (the best track on the LP). A beautiful melody and the most infectious bass-line you could wish for; there are even some nice backing vocals thrown in for good measure. Suddenly though a complete vocal distortion comes from out of no-where. Clever? Maybe. Unique? … you bet. And it doesn’t stop there.
The experimentation of electric sounds continues abound through ‘HOTFOOT’, ‘My Friend Simjen’ and ‘Industry City’. However, and this is the important part, this is not experimentation for experimentations sake. This music hasn’t been created to showcase the artists’ ability to program the latest and greatest drum machine. There is structure here and there is an overwhelming sense of a songwriter putting his own individual stamp on a genre that has become quite predictable over the past few years.
The songwriting and melodies of 2013 debut LP, ‘Lesser Evil’, are still there as well. Sometimes they’re clear and accessible (see ‘We Awake’) but the next second they’ve been tweaked and given a covering of electronic stardust (see ‘Video Hostage’). The album starts to become a little clearer and a little less confusing with each listen. However, its charm remains in the fact that it still has an air of mystery about it three days after removing it from its wrapper.
This experimentation is cutting edge and in time will no doubt be copied by artists the globe over. However, by the time it becomes mainstream ‘Doldrums’ will have moved onto something else equally as ground breaking. It appears to be in Woodhead’s nature to want to strive for utter perfection. This LP is as close to it as you can probably get.
In essence this LP is ridiculously clever and for some fully unexplainable reason I’m ridiculously hooked.
The full track-listing for ‘The Air Conditioned Nightmare’ is as follows…
‘Funeral for Lightning’
‘My Friend Simjen’
‘Closer 2 U’
You can see ‘Doldrums’ at one of the following venues…