The dictionary states that; ‘the doldrums refers to those parts of the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean affected by the Intertropical Convergence Zone, a low-pressure area around the Equator where the prevailing winds are calm.’ And although a confusing description, much like the album itself, calm is in fact the opposite.
Doldrums is in fact electronic producer Airsick Woodhead, who began this project in 2010. I can only describe their sound as a mash-up of electronic sequencing and samples that can sometimes sound like a piece of music coursework gone wrong. For anyone who is a fan of ‘noise pop,’ basically a fusion of random noises and indie vocals — then this might appeal to you. The synths and ominous sci-fi sounding backing which accompanies often “wonderwall” type vocals are a key theme across this album, and are replicated by a three person stage version of Doldrums, which only adds to their authenticity factor.
samples That sound like a piece of music coursework gone wrong
In the past, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by what Doldrums have had to offer, particularly their collaboration with Canadian singer Grimes on ‘Colour of Moonlight.’ However, this album reflects a new frontier for experimentalist Woodhead, whose musical heroes range from Bach to Slayer. The new album Esc is aptly named, a far-stretch from anything the band has created before. With surprisingly catchy dance tunes side-by-side with endless looped beat tracks, each song is a stand-alone improvisation. With highlights such as THE STITCHED TOGETHER MAN, which has a rhythmic tribal drum beat mixed with a sci-fi soundboard, inevitably there are also some disappointments. Track SWIM appeared to be a screaming galactic waste of my time, leaving an unpleasant aftertaste in my mouth that may take years to remove.
At times you can almost understand this mashup of hipster heaven and 80s vibes, which at times sounds like what I can only describe as ‘video-game chic’ or music that is appropriate only for a drunken stupor. And the lyrics do not disappoint your fellow drugged up arts student; ‘Tell me I’m the only one/ Though I know/ I couldn’t get your number one’. Clearly a lot of effort has been put into this.
But let’s not be completely cynical for, after a while, it sort of grew on me. Yes, this is music only appropriate for high-strung fashion shows and students who took a gap yah. But I have to admit after an entire sitting of Esc, the terrible lyrics of RUNNER UP sort of became, well, catchy. In sort of a sexy, I listen to awful music but can pull it off and gain your respect, kind of way. In fact, Doldrums himself explains his fragmented album as a ‘fractured mirror image of what our post-internet culture’. So, clearly there is a method to this madness. If anything, the messy, endless, indie warbles might be the next big dance track. So, if you’re a hipster, or you need something as backing for your next fashion show, Esc actually really works. Or as in OKAY, ‘Yes I miss the taste of ash in my mouth/That’s what I could never figure out.’