“If I don’t wake up and you do, the world goes on and on and on and on…”
When Armageddon arrives and the Four Horsemen eradicate us into oblivion, it will all go down the hatch of a vacuous black hole with a beautiful synth line—leaving nothing but an ember of hope into the vast darkness. This is a song for those who dare to dream even as every star flickers sombrely out of existence.
Matthew, a.k.a. the mastermind behind XOR, imagines himself in his basement, fiddling with a Roland JX-3P vintage synthesizer as we shuffle off this mortal coil. Borrowing the name from a type of digital logic gate, XOR (pronounced ex-or) has a new single, entitled And On. The track is swaddled in a warm melancholy glow, brightened by Matthew’s melodic vocals and taut, pulsing tempos. As with the other songs on the album, this track is animated by psychic dread, the thought of departed souls ripped away by the time-space continuum.
After growing up in the epicenter of the Moral Majority and then taking refuge in green anarchist subcultures, Matthew spent several years trying to live off the grid, hopping freight trains to get around—sometimes living outside, getting into foraging. He spent one summer at an Ojibwe harvest camp, where members were doing land defense against a mine being built on traditional tribal land. For years, Matthew has felt caught in limbo: entrenched in punk and hardcore subcultures, but personally more into electronic music and synth-pop. Indeed, Matthew has spent the past five years as bassist for Secret Shame. “Secret Shame’s a guitar-driven band with drums, and I wanted to do something that’s more dancey, more pop, but still had the darker elements,” he explains.
This solo album provides an outlet for the influences and sounds long-simmering inside, drawing 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. He began writing songs near the start of lockdown, initially planning a single and then realizing he’d have enough for a full album. At the heart of the record is an unresolved tension between the artist’s unease with technology and his heavy reliance on it, both for music and for work as a software developer and creator of open-source, in-browser synthesizers.
Listen to “And on” below:
Or your preferred streaming service here.
The XOR album is available for pre-order (self-release, out July 30th). Order here.