As flowingly dreamlike as it is harsh, David Psutka’s new album for Night Slugs under his Egyptrixx moniker is his most intriguing and personal yet. Electronic Beats’ online contributing editor Daniel Jones discusses it with Lynette Cerezo and Gustavo Aldana—respectively, vocalist and synth programmer—of the Los Angeles post-punk group Bestial Mouths, whose last LP Bestial Mouths was produced by Psutka.
Daniel Jones: I was very intrigued when I heard that Egyptrixx was responsible for producing your last album. The idea of one of the Night Slugs OGs working on a noisy, underground post-punk record is something that feels very timely given the harsher and more metallic approach dance music has returned to recently.
Lynette Cerezo: David wrote us after he’d heard the Hissing Veil album, and we started corresponding and talking about collaborating. We talked about working on an EP together, but then the opportunity for a full-length came up and he came out and produced a few tracks for the LP. We were so happy with the result that we brought him back out to record the rest of the songs.
DJ: I noticed the presence of more synths than previously on that album; did his production influence you in any way? Are you building toward a more dance-oriented aesthetic?
Gus Aldana: I would say that our new material definitely is, but not in a way that sacrifices our experimental qualities. I joined the band being very inspired by the contemporary techno scene, particularly by the output from Perc Trax and CLR. I feel that both of those labels are really pushing the sounds of techno into territory that is reminiscent of industrial and avant-garde extreme electronics and broken beats. I think they’ve really proven that there’s an audience and a thirst for those aesthetics today.
DJ: The new A/B… is definitely reminiscent of the more industrial sides of techno in a way that makes it stand apart from a lot of Night Slugs’ output.
GA: What I love about the new album is that it really furthers these ideas—it’s totally stripped-down compared to his last album, but it captures an atmosphere that encompasses so many different styles of electronic music. That “Water” track is such a huge dancefloor banger, but it also has a strong industrial vibe and really pushes the sound of contemporary techno into new areas. Some of the atmospheric pads remind me of some old Goldie tracks, super urban—but then the hi-hat rushes and the laser synths really push it into dancefloor territory.
DJ: You can hear a lot of older influences such as Vangelis there as well.
GA: It has a huge Blade Runner aesthetic; I’m sure he’s going to get this a lot but it totally reminds me of Vangelis, and tangentially the Kuedo album as well. That stripped-down sound in the new album is so focused, and I feel like the visual aesthetic of the video really encompasses that: red, black, and fluid.
DJ: Liquid plays a big theme on the album; that was a nice contrast with his work on Bestial Mouths’ more solid, ‘chunkier’ sound, which elementally felt closer to Earth. That’s also something you don’t hear in a lot of industrial techno, this ‘liquid’ element. It generally tends to keep its pads drier.
GA: The maximal aesthetic of Bestial Mouths and the more minimal aesthetic of A/B til Infinity seem to contrast, but I feel like they work together in a similar vision.
LC: Both albums have the same darkened tone, though with his work David creates a smooth atmosphere, while we tend to be more abrupt and sudden.
GA: I can see his black metal influences in the way that he uses a set of sounds to create different tracks, all within the same atmosphere. Even though our album is maximal, we’re working entirely with hardware so we’re limited in the soundscapes we create. I feel like with the new album, David really took that to an extreme and focused his electronics on a particular aesthetic and atmosphere. Although in some ways it is sparse, it also really opens up the feeling and emotion of the album—almost as though every track is a movement within a larger composition. It could easily be a film score, or a soundtrack to a dream or imagined world. It feels that personal. I think that’s what draws me to this album the most, the “liquid” element. It’s so unique in the current environment of electronic music. I feel like a lot of music now could be described as “smoky” or “gritty” or “hard”, but that liquid element really has David’s voice in it. He definitely has those more harsh elements, but overall the record feels like a rainy day in a post-apocalyptic wasteland similar to the world we live in. It feels as though he really let his imagination and feeling be expressed through the songs without feeling restricted by dancefloor sensibilities.
DJ: Exactly, and I think that’s why I found myself particularly drawn to the ‘break’ points of the album, when it would reach a more mellow standpoint— “Disorbital“s breathy synths, the Silent Hill-esque opening of “Bad Boy“…
LC: I would say my favorite is “Ax//s“. When I saw the video it solidified my love for it. David and his collaborator A N F [Berlin-based visual artist Andreas Nicholas Fischer] created a unique atmosphere for this. It’s sparse, but still heavy, and the way it progresses really leads you somewhere. I feel this track speaks to me the most on a personal level. It’s very cinematic, ominously evocative and eerie.
GA: That one is beautiful, though I might be impartial because the video is so amazing. From what I understand, his whole set is similar to that video. It’s funny because the first time I heard the record it was a gray, rainy day here in Los Angeles and before I looked out the window, I was listening to it and imagining that the world outside looked like that. But I would have to say my favorite track is “Adult“. I feel like it totally encompasses the mood of the whole album: hi-hat rushes, laser sounds, wet synths, and so much space. If A/B til Infinity were a soundtrack, I feel like this track would be the defining moment in the film—the ultimate showdown.
DJ: The production also reminded me of Vatican Shadow. While Psutka’s work is more lush and concise than Fernow’s, it has the same drawn-out and literary way of putting together songs that feels very ‘un-American’ in terms of modern dance music.
LC: I love how sparse he went with the kicks throughout the album. It really makes you savor every punch.
DJ: It has that same sense of being drawn into an imagined world.
LC: It’s not just an audio experience, but a visual one as well. It draws in the listener and engages them in a way that makes it truly art. If you tune out the world and just listen, it will take you places.
GA: The dancefloor is an open forum, and the warehouses and venues that this music occupies is so personal. I love hearing people express those experiences in more free forms. When you walk into a transformed space, it carries so much personality and feeling and weight that is unique to every person that steps foot into the party. A/B til Infinity encompasses that feeling. ~