Essential New Music: Doldrums’ “Esc”

Doldrums, the brainchild of Montreal denizen Airick Asher Woodhead, exists in the odd confluence of rhythmic EDM, soulful indie pop, industrial chaos, deconstructed techno and ambient margin noodling, assembled with a craftsman’s precision and an artist’s haphazard vision. For his third album, Woodhead touches on the sonic signatures of electronic pioneers Brian Eno, Philip Glass and late countryman Nash The Slash, with an aggressive rock layer that suggests Perry Farrell and Al Jourgensen (“Epilogue,” “Swim,” “Against The Glass”). Amid all that unsettling headfuckery, Woodhead and a small coterie of co-conspirators—guest vocalist Jane Penny from TOPS lends a shiver-inducing cross between Annie Lennox and Lana Del Rey on “Perv”—achieve a woozy pop aesthetic that sounds like Rufus Wainwright on a coherent acid binge (“Limerence (We Come In Pieces),” “Heater,” “Runnerup”). If the explanation sounds as chopped-up as the soundtrack to The Texas Computer Chip Massacre, trust that Woodhead-as-Doldrums has succeeded in making a compelling musical/mechanical statement.

Brian Baker