XAM Duo is a partnership between Hookworms' Matthew Benn and Deadwall's Christopher Duffin. The duo were set up by Hookworms' member and renowned producer MJ, and they recorded much of their first album at their initial rehearsal together. Both musicians were looking for a break from their noisy (Hookworms) and busily psychedelic (Deadwall) groups and looking to collaborate on something less structured and more electronic. Benn had already released some Tangerine Dream-inspired songs under the name XAM, but he wanted to add some more acoustic instruments to the mix. Enter Duffin and his saxophone, plus more synths. The duo combine their forces in very sympathetic fashion on the their first self-titled LP, layering treated saxophones over lushly shimmering synths and Motorik rhythms to create stately soundscapes and pulsing vistas of electronics. The tracks range from epic length (the 28-minute "I Extend My Arms, Pts. 1 & 2" and the 18-minute "René") to the more manageable five-minute pieces ("Ashtanga" and "Proem"). No matter the length, the duo are able to hold interest thanks to the combination of synth tones, flowing melodies, and the way the instruments lock together precisely even with the improvised nature of the songs. The have clearly put in some serious time with Tangerine Dream records, not to mention Kraftwerk, Cluster, and serious composers like Terry Riley, and their studies pay off handsomely. There isn't a dull moment, a cheesy sound, or an inauthentic moment anywhere on the album. XAM Duo is a synth lover's dream, a calming balm to the hectic hustle of modern life, and a trippy excursion into the futuristic past. Recommend to anyone who fell in love with the Stranger Things soundtrack and wanted to hear more music like that, or anyone who has worn out their '70s electronic collection and wonders if there are any young folks making music that good in 2016.
Performance CreditsXAM Duo Primary Artist
Matthew Benn Synthesizer,Electric Drums,Korg
Christopher Duffin Organ,Piano,Alto Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone,Moog Synthesizer,fender rhodes
Technical CreditsMatthew Benn Composer,Engineer,drum machine
Matthew Johnson Engineer
Alice Merida Richards Lyricist
Christopher Duffin Composer