Personal Computer

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Since the demise of his weirdo guitar pop combo Mint Chicks in 2010, Auckland native Kody Nielson's output has been somewhat scattershot. The talented Kiwi launched a psych-pop venture under the name Opossom, while occasionally collaborating with his brother (and former Mint Chicks co-founder) Ruban's acclaimed band Unknown Mortal Orchestra. However, in the years following the release of Opossom's lone LP, Electric Hawaii, Nielson found himself feeling disenchanted with the music industry and spent some time dedicating himself to visual art, painting a series of stark canvases that would eventually develop into the forlorn, sad-face iconography of his next project, Silicon. An austere bit of noir-electronica with dashes of clever pop color, Silicon is a solo project through and through. Inspired by the increasing trend of digital-only socialization, he created the world of Personal Computer, a place where burbling synths and tightly processed vocal harmonies search for their soul on tracks like "Cellphone" and "God Emoji." It's been labeled by some as retro-futurist and there is definitely a vintage element in the the sonic picture as he mixes old-school synths and odd, cut-up samples and beats with his own brand of icy soul. The machine-like grooves of Kraftwerk and the space-age lounge of Stereolab can been heard here, as well as the tightly wound pop of contemporary pop auteurs like Field Music or Django Django. Shot through it all is Nielson's high falsetto, crooning over tracks like "Love Peace," which ends up being one of the few sources of warmth on this wiry, distant release. For the most part, Silicon works, delivering strange sonic pop candy that feels a bit too distant to warm the heart, yet is strangely comforting in its isolation.

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