Closer than any before me
Baby, use your muscle memory
Northwest natives Ryann Donnelly (Schoolyard Heroes) and Byron Kalet (Journal of Popular Noise) pair hypnotic synthesizers with glossy pop vocals in an “ecstatic celebration of dread” as Disaster Fantasy. Their latest in a string of singles, the languid, sexy disco tune Muscle Memory, explodes with gorgeous ecstasy.
Upon first listen, this track immediately brings to mind Blondie, LED Soundsystem, and the heavenly vocals of Giorgio Moroder-era Donna Summer. This seductive siren song lulls you into hypnosis with its expansive chorus.
“I didn’t really start to work on these songs seriously ‘til spring/summer of 2020 in my Brooklyn studio” explains Kalet. “New York at that point was absolutely nuts, horrifying at times, but at the same time it was summer and beautiful outside. I biked through Prospect Park every morning. I think that dichotomy is reflected in the sound.”
That dichotomy carries over to the pictures Donnelly paints with her lyrics, describing Muscle Memory as simultaneously pleasurable and threatening. “They negotiate terms of one’s own failure, and try to personify it,” she says. “The seduction or fantasy of disappearing – that’s also in there.”
Written in London, Seattle, and Orcas Island, the initial tracking was done in Kalet’s Brooklyn studio. Vocals were tracked in a temporary studio on Orcas, and final mixing is being completed in Kalet’s Lopez Island studio.
Dr Ryann Donnelly is an artist and academic interested in subversive audiovisual practices. She has performed at venues including the Guggenheim Museum, exhibited video internationally, and promoted her own club nights In London. Her first book, Justify My Love: Sex, Subversion, and Music Video combined her thesis on queer and feminist video with her autobiography about being in a band. After Schoolyard Heroes disbanded, Ryann moved to New York, where she worked with Epic Records on a solo project, co-produced with notable indie figures like Mark Gajadhar (Blood Brothers) and Zac Pennington (Parenthetical Girls).
Byron Kalet is a designer and multi-instrumentalist with a current focus on synthesis and studio production. Throughout his career Byron has always sought to explore the common ground between visual design and sound. Byron’s first major project launched in 2006 with the Journal of Popular Noise, an experiment to marry concepts of graphic design, ‘zine culture, pop music and sound design. Contributors included Andrew W.K., Climax Golden Twins, and Past Lives, and culminated in the release of Foscil’s ‘Residential’ in 2010. Copies of the Journal of Popular Noise are held in the permanent collection of the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art and the special collections library at Princeton University. Following the success of The Journal, Popular Noise was reimagined as a traditional printed periodical – Popular Noise Magazine, which became the first creative collaboration between Ryann and Byron. In 2020, Byron relaunched Popular Noise Records, an imprint for traditional music releases – and will release the debut from Disaster Fantasy.
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