“I’ve always thought of the Egyptrixx project as one that takes the elements of club music and uses them in an experimental and reductive way,” explains David Psutka. “It’s always zoomed-out a couple degrees from club music.”
On the just-released Transfer of Energy [Feelings of Power], Psutka continues to explore the ice-cold ambience, angular percussion and deconstructed club tropes of 2013’s A/B Til Infinity. When FACT last spoke with him, he described that album as a “narrowing” of the concepts first presented on his debut album Bible Eyes. Transfer of Energy is more of a continuation than an evolution.
“The seeds for these songs were leftover concepts, arrangements and even demos from A/B Til Infinity, and it lives as a sequel to that,” Psutka explains. “I think of the two records as companions. These are more elaborate songs, whereas A/B tracks were each a clean, refined idea.”
As its two-part title suggests, complementary concepts — specifically the “dichotomy between tranquility and concussion” — are a key component of the album. “There’s a belief that the feelings that exist in club music — the really intense, violent, percussive moments and more serene, tranquil moments — are separate,” he explains. “But viscerally, they feel like the same thing to me.” That idea is at the heart of a track like ‘Not Vital’, which uses harsh sounds to create a soothing atmosphere.
That juxtaposition also drives the lone vocal track on Transfer of Energy, the first on an Egyptrixx album since Bible Eyes cuts ‘Chrysalis Records’ and ‘Fuji Cub’. ‘Body II Body’ features Nyssa Rosaleen, formerly of Modern Superstitions, amid the machine-made synthetics. “Nyssa is a friend who I’ve done production work for,” he says, noting that he’s not strategic about such collaborations. “She’s a great singer and her voice slides in nicely with the sound palette of that record. The are a lot of tough, abrasive sounds on the record, and her voice is a nice complement while still being impactful.”
The Egyptrixx project has long included a visual component by collaborator ANF (aka Andreas Nicolas Fischer), who brings the metallic surfaces and dystopian landscapes of Egyptrixx to life in his artwork and videos, like in his video for ‘Transfer of Power’ (premiered above). However, the audio-visual expression of Egyptrixx is evolving. “Mutek was a fork in the road for me,” he says, explaining that the video mixer glitched out during his performance at the Montreal festival. “Unless you have a video crew or your own techs, audio-visual performances are a gamble.”
Gamble or not, the Egyptrixx project was never intended for festival performances, and the pair are looking how to craft more immersive installations. “Abstraction is such a central part of the project,” he says. “It’s challenge moving forward how we want to,” especially since the pair don’t usually figure out how to execute a live performance until the record is complete. “It’s probably an immature way to do it,” he laughs.
The last two Egyptrixx albums suggest an exploration of space that almost seems best suited for a virtual reality environment, which Fischer actually has some experience with. Last year, Diesel commissioned him to craft an interactive art piece described as “an abstract digital organism.” Hashtagged tweets were converted by algorithm into the 3D geometry that dominates Fischer’s work, and then projected in a space with walls completely covered in screens. And while that type of experience is outside of the budget constraints of the Egyptrixx project, it’s an interesting avenue to ponder.
More realistic is the type of installation the pair did with Boiler Room in 2013. “It was the closest thing to the original vision – people getting blasted with visuals and sound and not sure which direction it was coming from,” he explains. “It really upset the politics of the room, that linear relationship between artist and audience.” While he describes the “arms race” of live A/V performances as “tiresome,” it sounds like something the two will continue to explore.
In the meantime, his audio and visual works have a new home: his Halocline Trance imprint, through which he released Transfer Of Energy. “I always intended to make my own label, to release things independently,” he says, landing on “Halocline” in the label’s name via the “accidental imagery” if not the textbook definition (which has to do with invisible stratas of water). And as with his live performance, he’s not satisfied with tried-and-true delivery systems.
“The digital medium doesn’t get used to its full capability. It’s so easy make, render and share music and video by taking advantage of digital flexibility,” he explains. While he’s still a fan of vinyl, he doesn’t think artists must adhere to standard EP and LP formats. “It’s a pride thing for artists to have something physically,” he admits, “but we want to be adventurous.”