“The burden of sentimentalism is singed. ‘All formlessness/Dead decayed decadence”/This amorphous amnesia = back to the primordial soup.” -Romy Hoffman
Out of the wilds of the Los Angeles music scene dwells the city’s fantastic post-punk outfit Agender. Dive deep with them into the realm of the imaginary, where all life has ceased to exist, with the video for their forthcoming new album’s title track “No Nostalgia”.
Australian lead singer Romy Hoffman, bassist Christy Michel, drummer Christy Greenwood, and synth player Sara Rivas marry a gentle lullaby with paranoid dysmorphic desire, creating an artistic sound somewhere in the politically-charged netherworld between P.I.L., Fad Gadget, Wire, and Malaria!. “The track describes a post-human environment where a being can oscillate effortlessly in oblivion without the weight and pressure of modern existence,” says Hoffman.
“Memory is asked to be recalled and an urge to return to childlike innocence is brought forth,” Hoffman adds. “The song imagines a world devoid of memory, where nothing exists anymore- the dust of semiotics and signs are what remains. There are no memoirs because there are no people. It’s a yearning for amnesia. Human beings are usually either looking back at the past or are worrying about the future. The oscillation between these tenses is what creates anxiety. No Nostalgia is a peaceful place of no anxiety, of evaporated earth and emptiness, of erased arousal, of no desire. There is no more danger because nothing exists. The song doesn’t say what caused this, but it’s post-human Earth about to rejuvenate itself from the vestiges and damages of Human existence.”
The sombre single shines with brilliant irony by evoking its retro romanticism in both sound and theme, leaving “the listener yearning to be one with their former self, even if it’s just for a moment.”
Many of the existential themes evoke in the song’s introspective lyrics, reflect the ideas explored with classic post-punk bands of the late 70s and 80s. This coupled with the quivering synths, unsettling guitar, and vocals that cut like a chill on the wind, imbued the song with its beautiful urgency towards wistful oblivion.
Describing her artistic direction for the song’s video, inspired by both love for film, and her admiration for essay filmmakers Chris Marker, Derek Jarman, and Dziga Vertov, Hoffman says: “This type of method/genre is the only thing that felt right to bring to life this song about memory and nostalgia. It made sense to make a collage of memories, rather than to form a narrative.”
Watch the video for “No Nostalgia” below:
Scratching that 7-year itch since the release of their debut album Fixations, No Nostalgia was written in the fall and summer of 2019, while Trump was still president and before anyone had even heard of Covid 19. Agender started the recording process in the winter of 2019 and into the spring of 2020. Of course, Covid 19 forced the band to pause their project until it was safe for studios to re-open.
Hoffman always was drawn to learning about the philosophical studies of memory. The works of writers such as Baudrillard, Proust, Deleuze & Guattari, and Derrida, played an influential role in the development of No Nostalgia. Other another artist who inspired the record for Hoffman was late 70s/early 80s post-punk experimental filmmaker Barbara Hammer.
Hoffman, describing the main themes of the album, says, “The album reads as a newspaper or a collage. It’s a political, spiritual, philosophical look at modern society- the information age. It’s an anthropological look at the absurd current state of affairs. It’s focused yet unhinged, self-reflective, observant, brash, tongue in cheek, serious yet playful. Excavations and observations of the mind of an anxiously attached, overthinking, spiritual human.”
David Scott Stone (LCD Soundsystem, Unwound) produced, Sean Cook (St. Vincent, Angel Olsen) mixed, and Bob Weston (Shellac) mastered the record. The three engineers combined with Hoffman’s gritty lyrics set the stage for an intricate storyline of existentialism.
“No Nostalgia” is off their forthcoming sophomore album, also entitled No Nostalgia, which comes out on February 24, 2022.
Find “No Nostalgia”, “Astro Tarot”, and “Preach” digitally on Agender’s Bandcamp page here.