We were washing ourselves in the riverbed
The fear of the mine was long gone
It’d given reason for some hope
Picture this: Matthew, also known by his moniker XOR, creating sonic masterpieces in his basement, as if time was standing still. Armed with a vintage Roland JX-3P synthesizer, he pours his soul into every note, determined to leave his mark on the musical landscape. Taking inspiration from the digital logic gate of the same name, XOR, pronounced “ex-or,” recently unveiled a new single titled “Penokees.”
Matthew spent his formative years growing up in the heart of the Moral Majority. However, seeking solace in the arms of green anarchist subcultures, he spent a number of years attempting to live a self-sustaining lifestyle. Matthew hopped freight trains to get around and at times found himself living outdoors, exploring the art of foraging. During one particular summer, he joined an Ojibwe harvest camp where members were defending their land against the construction of a mine on their traditional tribal grounds. “Penokees” is about one of his friends who went to prison over this conflict.
XOR’s music has a way of capturing the intangible essence of the human experience, painting sonic landscapes that resonate with the deepest recesses of the soul. The lyrics are nostalgic for a simpler time enjoying the landscape and its people with abandon – a private Eden, corrupted by industry and greed.
“Ironically, the song is coming out during another large scale resistance to environmental degradation as Altanta pushes forward to develop the massively unpopular Cop City in the Weelaunee forest,” Matthew says. “Penokees” exudes a sense of bittersweet melancholy, illuminated by Matthew’s enchanting vocals and taut, pulsating rhythms.
Matthew, a musical polymath, found himself in a precarious position. His roots in punk and hardcore subcultures had a firm grip on his being, yet his personal musical proclivities leaned towards the glitzy allure of electronic and synth-pop. As the bassist for Secret Shame, a guitar-driven band with drums, Matthew yearned to expand his musical horizons and explore something more dancey and pop, while still retaining the darker elements that spoke to his soul.
It is this desire that led him to his self-titled debut and beyond. Matthew hunkered down in his home studio, tinkering away at his Roland JX-3P vintage synthesizer, crafting sonic landscapes that reflected his deepest desires. But this time, he had a partner in crime – producer and engineer Adam McDaniel (Avery Tare, Indigo DeSouza, Angel Olsen) lent his expertise to the mixing and mastering of XOR’s latest EP, “beyond the tall trees somewhere.”
Set to be released on April 27th, this new EP promises to be a musical journey like no other. Matthew’s musical dexterity, coupled with McDaniel’s technical finesse, has resulted in an enticing project that exudes an irresistible allure, with its shimmering melodies and hypnotic beats. “beyond the tall trees somewhere” is a testament to Matthew’s creative vision and his unwavering commitment to pushing the boundaries of his craft.
beyond the tall trees somewhere is out on April 28th, 2023.