Australia’s Pronoun kickstarts Faux with a battle cry, a Double Dragon styled yell that oozes out of past decades, bleeding like a wound into the present from its once-pristine arcade or, as teenagers in the 80’s and 90’s will tell you, paradise. The era has long gone – the music of Pronoun will tell you as much. It’s just as colorful as an array of arcade machines that radiate powerful amounts of temptation and pleasure.
The synths on display glow like a thermal image, and luminous jets of purple and pink fly like sparks into the sky. Barbecued beats are red-hot, scorched under the fiery glare of the synth. The opening synths are fever-hot, but it’s not long before we realize that something isn’t quite right. Faux has suffered a brutal attack, its shoegaze elements have been viciously mutilated and garbled beyond their original harmony.
The new generation of dark shoegaze is a futuristic entity known only as Faux. It’s a strange, out-of-body experience that snakes its way through swampy synths and retro beats, darkly ecstatic in their climax. It can be viewed as an experimental hybrid: a radiant fusion between electronic music and shoegaze music, with a barrage of noise thrown in, sitting on top of everything like a dirtied throne overlooking a distorted wasteland.
His music drips with a warm, healthy tonality despite the noise. The days when shoegaze had that softer, romantically ambient center have been wiped away, replaced by a ferocious and, some might say, violent assault. During the 80’s and the 90’s, the bomb of unfathomable distortion was king. Now, it is raw, hungry and powerful. The distorted attack is crucial to shoegaze, and it’s in Faux, but it’s also got an electronic punch that can knock you sideways. Shoegaze has always been close to noise, and this is no exception. The only thing stopping it from crossing the border is the presence of that glowing harmony, which keeps it from crossing over like a police car on patrol.
The opener, “Drowning under a Fetherolf sky”, drives around in the black, drenched in the neon reverb of the night. Pronoun blunts the attack with a soothing loop or a hypnotic ambient track, such as “Ignoring the lovely photos of your putrid life”. A darker, almost subterranean track drags the preceding melody down into the sewer, a finishing move that destroys any hope of the glittering melody ever returning. The music is a cynical, angry adult in the midst of a mid-life crisis who, as a teenager, used to seep n’ shake with raw, unfiltered emotion; the casual yet powerful currents of a distorted guitar and her fiery power chords made for a high that could never last. The long hair is now greasy, soaked in the grime of life. However,”Lost in the stars, lost in the fog”shows that beauty cannot and does not die. This time, a stronger harmony emerges, a sprinkled rainbow that races away. Drum machines try to bring us back into the past, and with exhilarating bands of synth for company you may be tempted to return.
It’s just an illusion, though, because the finale, “Screeching dreams of Mr Klein”, is a disturbing end, a cold war for a cold world. Pushed under an abrasive layer of pure grit, the promise of a melody is extinguished, snuffed out. We’re left with a weird, asphyxiated piece of music, its wounds on public display. Burning. The music has been shredded, shedding its skin of its past before it transforms into something else, a psychotic loop looking for a joyride. The revolution won’t be televised; the channels are off the air and the cables have been destroyed by commandos and fighters. (James Catchpole)