In astrology, the much-ballyhooed “Saturn return,” a rite of passage often simultaneously churning out turmoil and strife, is a major planetary occurrence marking a period of intense change and brutal lessons symbolising the final dregs of youth. Saturn’s journey to complete a full orbit around the sun takes approximately 29.5 years, so the phrase “Saturn return” refers to Saturn returning to the exact position in the zodiac where it was at the time of your birth.

XOR tackles the Saturn Return and that specific concept of revisiting points on the karmic wheel with the lush single Saturn Returns, a fierce but tender electronic track with speedy beats, highlighted by Matthew’s contemplative voice. In and of itself, the process of creation and his own personal experience at that cosmic precipice.

The name XOR (pronounced “ex-or”) comes from the logic gate; it also represents a recognition of the contradictions necessary to thrive in the modern world: mastermind behind the electronic project, Matthew (Secret Shame), spent much of the past decade making steps towards living off the grid before learning to write software and returning to electronic music. For years, Matthew has felt caught in an in-between space: entrenched in punk and hardcore subcultures, but personally more into electronic music and synth-pop. This solo album unleashes nocturnal slow-burners drawn upon influences as wide-ranging as The Cure, Björk, Aphex Twin, and Clams Casino, topped off with an insistent drum-machine pulse and glistening synth lines worthy of a John Hughes montage.

Photo: Mica Rage

“I actually previously recorded a version of this song when I was between music projects, but never did anything with it,” says Matthew. “I was nearing 30, wondering what I was doing with my life, and didn’t really have goals. The past decade had been pretty scattered–I had tried various ways of existing in the world but wasn’t really satisfied. I’d also grown pretty accustomed to spending a lot of time in my head, imagining different pasts or futures or presents without ever doing much to change my current situation. In hindsight, that habit kept me from actually doing anything–it was much easier and more satisfying to imagine how things could be different than to actually try something.”

You can listen to Saturn Returns and preorder the album here:

Cover Photo: Mica Rage

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