I first met Xylen Roberts in May when he took a Megabus from West Virginia to attend one of my shows here in Pittsburgh. Xylen is a soft-spoken contemplative individual with jester features and a tendency to stare from dark eyes. And his music is that of a madman. Expanding Squares is a swirl of caterwauling on geopolitics, consumerism and higher dimensions sewn with runaway eastern instruments, bells, synths, horns, detuned mandolins, electronic battering rams and noise.
If the music were less technicolor, the lyrics would sit right with any cynical punk with missives like “see that stream of worker bees dying for their queens/now the bees are made in labs to spy on you and me.”
When tracks finally come up for air from paranoid hurricanes about cyborg bumblebees or radioactive insects, such as Whirling Dervish’s meditative closer, the contrast rewards with some new age respite before diving under the turbulence again. Roberts singing voice feels like Simon Le Bon on a coke rage bender, manic and sometimes breathlessly off key. If you’re anxious about the times you might find much to enjoy in Expanding Squares’ earthy psychedelia. Listen to Expanding Squares on Bandcamp.
Listen/purchase: Gaia Omen by Troxum
When looking at the whole “Chillwave” shabang, we see a variety of shoegaze/ synth-pop enthused college kids with cassette tapes and big glasses abusing xanax and making songs on their ipads. This certainly doesn’t overrule the fact that the music flowing out of this phenomenon is absolutely incredible. Troxum is in the midst of them and, I would say, stands out as being particularly wonderful, despite his lack of a vocalist.
Thank you. <3