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Review: Retribution Body, "Baphomet"

By Steve Dewhurst

For Baphomet‘s creation, Matthew Azevedo decamped to Methuen Memorial Music Hall, replete with its 160 year old Great Organ and famed four-second reverberation.

Pete Swanson
A Folk Music of Sorts: An Interview with Zefan Sramek of Precipitation

By Jason Cabaniss

"For much of my work, both musical and otherwise, the notion of place is very important. That’s one of the reasons I like using field recordings."

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Inbox #10: Real Life Ambient Top 10

By Emmerich Anklam

Greil Marcus, whose books like Mystery Train and Lipstick Traces and The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs deepen the mysteries of rock music instead of explaining them away, has kept up his Real Life Rock Top 10 column with few interruptions for more than thirty-five years. This edition of The Inbox is structured after his column and dedicated to him.

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Guest Playlist #08: H. Anthony Hildebrand

By Steve Dewhurst

“The first album I was given was Rolf Harris’ Greatest Hits... that’s how not cool the music happening at our house was."

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Benoit & Sergio, “Lost Decade”

When Benoit & Sergio debuted thirteen years ago, bass-dropping, stadium-filling EDM was still known as “dubstep” and mostly confined to Europe. LCD Soundsystem and DFA were wrapping up a decade of leading the “indie dance” movement, which gave rockers and punks the ok to embrace the dancefloor. Dance music was a long way from the pop chart dominance we see today. Benoit Simon and Benjamin Myers (aka Sergio Giorgini), hailing from France and Washington, D.C., respectively, broke out of the LCD mold by combining sardonic, introspective lyrics about death, lost love, and vapid club culture, with mostly upbeat, driving rhythms that worked like gangbusters in said clubs. Throughout the 2010s, they released a stream of singles and EPs, and occasionally hinted in interviews that a full-length album was on the horizon. This summer, that full-length, the appropriately titled Lost Decade, finally arrived via Jonathan Galkin’s FourFour Records. Instead of the usual dance music album strategy of repackaging previously released singles, the duo instead present a set of nuanced, airy tracks that feel far removed from a club or party. Even the beat-driven songs convey a blown out, foggy sense of melancholy.

Throughout Lost Decade, Myers’ vocals are buried beneath a pile of vocoder and effects, obscuring most of his words save for a few phrases. When discernible, the lyrics suggest a forlorn weariness. Whereas they once coolly took that French girl driving to “show you where I’ve loved” and “what I’ve lost,” now there’s “something in me that I wanted to say but it fell too short.” The second track, “Even Viridian,” reveals the line, “half the time I didn’t know who you were and most of the time I was afraid to ask.” This sense of distant, detached relationships reflects the titular angle of the album. Connections that once felt so close and unbreakable slowly fade as time moves on. No matter how hard we may try to hold on to things as they are in a particular moment or period, everything moves forward and, sometimes, apart. Lost Decade isn’t all moody, as the title track and “Where We Are” hew as close to the Benoit & Sergio techno sound as the album gets. While their trademark idiosyncratic synths and beats provide a brief, carefree respite, the pensive tone of the rest of the record hints at how fleeting the good times have become.

“Mind and Drums” stands out as not only the best track on Lost Decade, but the finest moment of Benoit & Sergio’s careers. The ethereal piano strikes, brushed drums, and spectral vocals would fit in nicely with any of Kompakt’s Pop Ambient compilations. As the song winds down, the line “I feel my heart breaking” envelopes you like a fog rolling in off a bay. In the hands of other artists, “Mind and Drums” could become overwrought and self-loathing; on this album, though, the sparse, blurred lyrics and minimalist grooves gently congeal into a hypnotic blend that’s an affecting piece of digital pop.

Lost Decade is Benoit & Sergio embracing a downtempo electronica sound unlike their previous releases. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to listeners of their earlier works, as the downcast lyrics were always there, and now have a musical accompaniment to show where their heads were at the entire time. Maybe you’re like me, having first experienced their music at an earlier age, when there were different life priorities (going out, having a good time being tops). Now, in 2022, there’s less connection to that person, as life and its relentless march forward have changed us all. Benoit & Sergio have sensed that as well, and they’ve crafted an introspective, solitary record that acts as a sombre end note to the first phase of their musical journey. Life isn’t only about the good times, but Lost Decade shows that the valleys have as much to offer as the peaks.