Words by Gina Walsh
The global pandemic gave many musicians a chance to explore their creativity and really spend time experimenting and playing around with sounds which is exactly what gave rise to the birth of XYZZY.
Paul Nagle, Don Himlin and Dean Honer came together (virtually) to create a synth city masterpiece, truly reflective of the time in which it was created. Nagle, the ‘synth wizard’ produced a collection of synthesiser beats which were then forwarded on to Himlin to add bass, guitar and vocals. This was then sent even further over to Honer for final production and mixing. Although they didn’t get to work on the project in close contact, the collaboration is unified and smooth, whilst still allowing each contributors creative influence to shine through. It is a true amalgamation of beautiful minds.
The album feels like a journey through an 80s video game, each song a unique level to be unlocked. The singularity of the project is evident, but you can hear and feel clear grungy, throaty influences from the likes of Bowie and Cobain.
The first song ‘Sending a Message’ to me, does exactly that – a message of what is to come over the course of the album. The lyrics ‘though it may be upside down and inside out and full of doubt, but it’s on the way’ perfectly describes the brainchild – it’s a little bit weird and bizarre, but it’s here, you’re about to listen to it and you’ll probably enjoy it.
The 80s videogame vibe is carried through the album, especially with the song ‘Movie Music’ which uses a vocoder for the vocals which totally melts away your sense of reality. You’re then brought back to earth by a beautifully cutting sax piece which contrasts with the rest of the track completely, adding rawness to an otherwise very electronic sounding album.
The songs have the power to be overwhelming and intense, overloading your senses. However, the infectious bass throughout brings a groove that anyone can identify with, almost providing a level of sense to the madness.
The album is a love letter to all those who believe we’re in this life as part of a simulation.
If I had to choose one word to describe it, it would be iridescent.