Aphelion, Madison Arts Extract

Madison’s Null Device is the kind of band that seems to exist in its own little universe and thrive there, humbly exploring its love of meticulous electronic production and vocal-driven pop songwriting and putting out a really cool release every couple of years. Its approach to electronic music embraces plenty of sleekness and drama, but also isn’t self-aggrandizing. It also never sounds too indebted to one particular era or strain (although it’d be impossible to miss the band’s affinity for New Order). Instead, it’s all about having room to explore, and over the years Null Device’s sound has made space for a variety of production styles and occasionally percussion and melodies inspired by Indian and Middle Eastern music. And this leaves even individual songs open to different permutations: On the new ‘Aphelion’ EP, the trio takes four songs from last year’s album ‘Perihelion‘ and tosses out everything but the basic melody and structure, creating new production and arrangements from scratch. The result is a more spacious and reflective feel, melancholy but warmed up with occasional strings and the occasional glossy piano sound. This treatment works especially works well for “Retrograde”: Eric Oehler’s voice comes off as refreshingly unpretentious even when he’s singing a lyric that tries to unpack time and destiny, “automatic, shifting pace/ fate and will running the race.” And the treatment here accentuates both the confident melody and the plaintive, uncertain air of the song. The EP is currently streaming on Null Device’s SoundCloud and will be released digitally later this month. The band currently doesn’t have any local shows booked but we’ll let you know of any that pop up.

(Scott Gordon)