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Xeno & Oaklander / Live Review

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One has got to love the feeling you get minutes before parking your car in front of Phobic Club: the drive through the poorly illuminated streets of the industrial area of Marghera, guarded in the distance by silent behemoth skeleton silhouettes of tall container cranes by the dock and hollow monolith looking semi abandoned hangars and warehouses staring at you with detached interest through their abyssal eye sockets, the window panes of your car opened just enough to let the smoke of the cigarette make a few elegant spirals before getting sucked outside, accompanied by the sarcastic screeching of the train on the tracks right beside the road – when you finally get to the club, it feels like you’ve been thrown on a precarious raft made of palm leaves and bamboo trunks by a grey and raging sea: a fortunate twist of fate, yes. But still, precarious.


Such flamboyant but still sincere premise given, Phobic Club is simply the perfect place in Veneto to abandon yourself to the sequential discipline of Xeno & Oaklander: the duo from Brooklyn is just one of many names brought to Marghera by the excellent Pulse collective (Perc, Cold Cave and Helena Hauff, just to name a few playing that same night) but analogue frantics Liz Wendelbo and Sean McBride are actually the ones I came to hear. Having released the skillfully carved Par Avion on Ghostly International just a couple of months ago – nothing particularly new, since the beauty of the genre they celebrate stands in miniature musical paintings rather than in seditious innovation (and anyhow, who actually gives a fuck about innovation when songs like Sheen or Providence start tickling the upper part of your skull from the inside?) – I could not wait for the leds of the darklit wired boxes on stage to sensually start flickering, drum machines and all. I kept my eyes closed for most of the concert, completely taken away by their music – the fear of pre recorded loops and rhythms dissolved in a wonderful maze of imperfections at the beginning of each song, slowly condensed into the afore mentioned sequential discipline you can enjoy on the record. Liz sings menacing in an odd but lovely way, I can see how she can easily inspire other important muses such as Talking Heads’ bassist Tina Weymouth into writing motherly love letters to the duo. The last song ends almost in unison with my third drink and I can barely get through the fourth song of Cold Cave’s set – the contrast between his poses and loops and the craftsmanship of Xeno & Oaklander being too cruel to him – before me and my girlfriend decide to get on the car and throw ourselves back into the grey and raging sea.