Nostalgia is often guarded by the thick, indeterminate fog of our own memory. Ex-Pat, a Buffalo recording artist, wades through this fog. His time-warping artwork is genuine, soulful, and full of personality. Echoing the most gossamer, faded shades of 90s shoegaze and downtempo, while melting around your ears like a good-as-gold nugget of 50’s doo wop, Ex-Pat is a notable blend, indeed.
His sweepingly good 2015 track, “Confusion,” exemplifies his dream pop experimentations (Check out our previous feature on AM 1400). This song excels in a fibrous synthesis of natural and electronic. It offers a soft-on-the-ears mix of creamy synths, while effectively steering into a folksy, way-down-a-country-road harmonica solo.
His latest work, We Are All Explosives, is a four-song project halved by recent creations and older archives. The time-capsule of feeling freely drifts through Ex-Pat’s artistic chronology.
Its whispery intro track, “The Call to be Happy,” is a minimalist construction centered around slow-as-syrup slacker guitar work. The rustling track plods through mundane cycles of life while offering glimmers of encouragement. Ex-Pat keens for change, singing “It’s a new day get out of bed, laying around won’t get you ahead, it’s a cycle, say it again, you got weak skin, well it’s time to shed.” Halting restrictive patterns of life, his voice breaks through the charming lo-fi tarnish.
On the following slowcore-esque “Brood,” Ex-Pat’s wavering voice fosters an ear-worm melody. Self-growth crumbles away, as the singer mutters questioning phrases to himself. The writer’s disaffected message is well-captured in its title.
The soul-stirring penultimate track, “Green Light,” is the project’s cerebral apex. The sensitive piece lounges in the uncomfortable, facing self-progression by fire while asking for something more. The song’s dramatic onset is a surreal, ambient layering that drips with emotion. As this otherworldly billow of sound peels away, Ex-Pat emerges from the low-tone rumble with a beaconing performance. Propelled by the track’s evolutionary structure, the singer calls out in his signature, reverb-soaked wail, “I wanna feel good so bad.” Just a few lines later, he understands that “change comes slow.”
The collaborative closer, “Credits,” is a rosy bubble of chillwave synths that shows range for Ex-Pat. Starry guest production from artist Angel Paste, hosts a retro-futuristic sparkle and an undulating groove.
Swaying between familiarity and exploration, Ex-Pat leads a wandering mission on We Are All Explosives. In these four songs, the artist both loses and finds his sense of direction. He acknowledges a desire for change on the intro, continues to be weighed down, but remains brave in the middle portion, and ultimately floats toward a better future on “Credits.” We Are All Explosives understands the time we are given. The EP balances the meaning of each present moment, effectively celebrating the past while aiming for more.
Ex-Pat finds comfort while oozing charisma in his whimsical strain of fringe dream pop. Best to pop the headphones on, find your way to this EP, and follow suit.
Stream We Are All Explosives on Spotify or Apple Music, or the Bandcamp player below.
ICYMI, Ex-Pat’s personality is on full display in this older video.