Week in Pop: HDLSS, Jesus Sons, LuxDeluxe

Sjimon Gompers

Through the darkness of futures past—HDLSS's Far & Wolfy emerge from the billows of fog machine smoke; press photo courtesy of HDLSS.

HDLSS

Late night drives with HDLSS; photographed by Shana Wolfe.

Queens, NYC duo Far & Wolfy of HDLSS are back spreading the gospel of their forthcoming mini-album titled Selections From DUMB available August 4 & we present the world premiere for their delightfully distorted CocoRosie cover of “Promise”. Applying a boom bap approach and a wealth of atmospheric production techniques for their rendering of the original; HDLSS’s tenebrous hip hop take on “Promise” follows up recent singles “Wonderloss“, “BILL$“, “Colonizer” & “False Flag” that furthers the dialogue about surviving the post-apocalyptic realities of these crazed, dystopian days. “This cover was actually the first song we made to get the ball rolling for the album,” Far from HDLSS explained to us in a recent conversation, “It ended up informing a lot of the record.” From the ambient industrial atmospheres that both Far & Wolfy indulge in with their latest material; the HDLSS sound has only grown to become more cryptic, atmospheric & mysterious as if witnessing some sort of behind the scenes meeting of metaphysical forces & dubious powers.

Far described Cocorosie’s “Promise” as being “a really important song to [HDLSS]”, that features extremely atmospheric, visceral arrangements that Far further explained as being the very “production techniques that helped shaped the record.” HDLSS expounds upon their previous fusions & permutations with a sound that is darker, more sinewy, smoky, with streaks of the supernatural that rise from the underground asphalt like NYC street vents that emit steam upward from the subterranean utility lines & into the air that hovers between the places of heavenly skies & the grounded station of earth. The production flickers & flutters like a digital butterfly duking it out between a malevolent flock of moths in a quest for dominance, or survival (really whichever arrives first). CocoRosie’s original gets new percussion tricks & a whole host of new synths that are extended outward to parts unknown thanks to breathy Wolfy’s spoken verses & Far’s own sung echoing sequences makes for a vast universe that also includes faint inclusions of brass & other ambient components into the mix. The transformation of “Promise” makes for a song that has become all the more immediate for our lives & times as truths feel more fickle in the face of domestic & international civic, economic & social threats where the constructs of promises by politicians & their ilk becomes less trustworthy & relevant (while the song itself feels more relevant than ever before).

HDLSS live in the act; press photo courtesy of the duo.

Far & Wolfy of HDLSS shared some expansive expository reflections regarding the making of their new album Selections from DUMB, their cover of CocoRosie’s “Promise” & more:

MAKING OF ALBUM

Hitting the reset button on my life gave birth to this new album, Selections from DUMB. I got rid of my old stuff, furniture and all, moved into a new apartment, divorced myself from friendships and a relationship that were unhealthy, quit my job and cut any harmful indulgences. My bandmate Wolfy and I also had a falling out after we put out our first record in 2011 and went on hiatus in 2012. So in 2014, I was alone in my new bedroom, and all I had was this early 90s Yamaha keyboard from childhood with like 4 presets. I knew I was going to make a record, as that was the only thing left to do, to somehow claw my way back to myself, or to some reconstructed new self.

The first song I wrote for the album was “BILL$”, a song about debt and owing something to people or your past. Debt is a ghost that follows you wherever you go. It is a phantom presence; it’s something you don’t have but owe. Whether it’s financial debt or emotional debt, it’s all the same. We carry people from the past with us, just like a credit score. People we wish we could erase live on in our brains consuming our emotions, time and love communicating to us as memories or voices or words are triggered in daily life. A part of you still wants their validation. Parts of yourself are devoted to paying them in dividends with each memory recalled, whether it’s time spent in regret, hate or perhaps unrequited love. An aspect to all of this comes down to self love, which is something I had very little at the time of writing this song. It’s hard as it can take quite a bit of self love or courage to say enough is enough, kill everything in your life and hit the reset button, and violently amputate these phantom limbs, these memories that become extensions of you as they continue lingering draining your life force.

The idea for the album, Selections from DUMB, took on a life of its own after finishing “BILL$”. The album is about witnessing one’s own dumbing down. Watching yourself dissipate into the void of cultural capitalistic bottomless consumption where we lose less and less control of our brains and rely more on other people’s opinions and devices to tell us how to think. Self love is a part of that too, as the less you have of it, the more susceptible you are to let other people think for you and feed that void.

THE JUMP FROM HEADLESS HORSEMAN TO HDLSS

The jump from our old name Headless Horseman to HDLSS is reflective of this large shift in our personal lives, musical aesthetic and just wanting to shed the mythology of our old name. Our first album was very vibe-y and lofi. It was less concerned with conceptual songwriting or even real lyrics (as I would often sing in gibberish) as this new one. There is also a huge shift in production, as we upgraded our recording rig, and spent years 3 years making new music alone in a vacuum without any thought to the outside world. After I hit that reset button, I sort of retreated from the world and went into album mode where my brain was pretty much only thinking about writing at any point during the day. Our new name also more clearly reflects our “headless” ethos, of relying on instinct and intuition rather than intellect and over-thinking things too much. To get to the deeper meanings of the songs, we used techniques like automatic writing and other methods to access our unconscious.

The mystic styles of HDLSS; photographed courtesy of the duo.

ON “PROMISE”

“Promise” is the only song out—yet—that features Wolfy on vocals, as he is rapping, and I am doing the singing parts in the chorus, just like how CocoRosie split up those duties. The decision to do this song came out of the idea to make a eulogy album of covers that would lay rest to formative music we both loved to both pay respects and learn some songwriting lessons in the process. The cover actually informed a lot of the record, as it has this dark hip hop sound that utilized a lot of production techniques we ended up using. We have been longtime fans of CocoRosie, and always thought that a 90s boom bap version of “Promise” would be really bad ass, as the song has all the elements of a hip hop song, but the production is a bit lo-fi like the beat is beat-boxed. So we wanted to pull it out of that aesthetic, and even mix the 90s sound with a Drake type chorus where the drums drop out and it gets sort of ethereal. CocoRosie are one of the few indie bands that could really lend themselves to that type of interpretation. We always thought they were way ahead of their time doing the whole indie rap thing as there are not many indie bands that can pull of rapping in their music without sounding corny. In an alternate universe maybe CocoRosie would be played on Hot 97?

Catch HDLSS supporting Kucka July 29 in Brooklyn at Baby’s All Right.

HDLSS’s mini-album Selections From DUMB will be available August 4.

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