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London-based collective Superorganism bows as a rare group whose self-titled debut lives up to fan hype and rewards repeated play. Hailing from the U.K., New Zealand, Australia, Japan, and South Korea, the collective’s eight members met through various online forums before joining forces at a two-story row house/studio in the Lower Clapton neighborhood of East London, which now serves as a creative lab and dormitory.
Reflecting the band’s living arrangements, Superorganism’s songs incorporate layers upon layers of effects and ideas. Instead of sounding disjointed, the musiccomes across as surprisingly coherent all the while adhering to a seemingly disparate earthy and technological aesthetic. Lead single “Something for Your M.I.N.D.” teems with quirky, upbeat synth puddles, auto-tuned vocals, slow-motion slide guitars, and nature samples that lay a smooth runway for the lift off of its addictive chorus. Singer Orono Noguchi’s deader-than-dead-pan delivery lends an ironic comedy to lyrics like “I think you and I could set the world alight/‘Cause we’re all stars tonight.” Noguchi, who was born in Tokyo but just graduated high school in Maine, exudes a carefree attitude that balances the band’s perky cut-up samples and high-energy, we’ll-try-anything instrumentation.
On the dreamy “Reflections on the Screen,” Noguchi’s snappy “I’ve zoomed in 1080p/Your pseudo-smile is so unfree” observation precedes a soaring chorus about our glow-faced world: “All this stalling, keeps me going, just recalling, you and me/And there’s something so affecting in the reflections on my screen.” The track captures the internal contradictions and great paradoxes of online life: It can foster both intimacy and alienation.
Indeed, for all of its sampled giggles and slacker attitude, the albumserves as a sympathetic picture of how people struggle with the disjointed highs and lows of our always-on culture. Noguchi’s intentionally stilted and low-key lyrics reflect the chill vibe many people adopt in order to cope with the chaos around them. Superorganism sounds like the future, or at least this band’s subconscious vision of it.
Superorganism found a home on Domino, an independent U.K. label that cares about vinyl sound quality. In addition to the flat and quiet pressing, the lacquer cut by Matt Colton of Britain’s Alchemy Mastering captures the full dynamic range of the recording, which sounds even better when played at louder volumes. Colton, who won the 2018 Music Producers Guild Mastering Engineer of the Year Award, preserves the recording’s finely layered detail. The analog edition reveals deep, bristling synthesizer textures on tracks like “Nobody Cares” that, by contrast, come across as homogenized on the digital download. Domino also gets the packaging right with a slick lyric sheet, nylon-lined record sleeves, and a richly colored gatefold jacket graced by Noguchi’s mystical artwork.
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