The second half of 2016 has been a very good to Austin, Texas electronic band SURVIVE. The preposterous viral success of Stranger Things on Netflix this summer catapulted the largely unknown band into the public’s imagination thanks to adoring articles from Pitchfork, NME, and AV Club, a hot two volume soundtrack album from band members Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, the show’s obsessive fans, and the band is making the most of it with a national tour and a well timed sophomore album, RR7349. But could it live up to the expectations that come from sudden increases in attention, and could it exist separately from Stranger Things?
The answer on both counts is definitely. SURVIVE as a full band trades emotive minimalism for glacial synths and pulsating, widescreen vistas that occupy an entirely different sonic space. The layered sounds of RR7349 conjure 80’s futurism, bleak coldness and human struggle, to create subdued but epic soundtracks for movies that may or may not exist, not that it matters anymore in this media saturated age. We’ve absorbed so much over the course of our lives that we can make up our own movies or fragments of movies for these soundscapes in our heads.
The hypnotic rhythms and heroic synth lines of “A.H.8” and “Dirt” suggest sensations of patrolling the urban wasteland of Old Detroit or biking around Neo Tokyo. “Wardenclyffe” would be ideal for driving through a post apocalyptic wasteland on your never ending quest to keep some guzzoline in the tank. Maybe the glitzy and tense “High Rise” is a reference to Ben Wheatley’s disturbing 2015 satire High-Rise, maybe it isn’t. “Sorcerer” is thrillingly caught between between ominous dark and heroic light, while “Low Fog” is terrifyingly David Lynch, via Angelo Baladamente. If “Copter” lifts off and never comes back down, drifting off into oblivion, album closer “Cutthroat” is the final battle in the final reel between the forces of whatever and it doesn’t really matter before the fade to credits.
It’s genuinely funny how these things sometimes work out sometimes. Taking tremendous advantage of a thoroughly unexpected harmonic convergence of celestial events that afforded them more exposure than they could’ve ever suspected thanks to Stranger Things, SURVIVE makes the most of the opportunity on RR7349, exploring futures that feel as if they were dreamed up in the 80’s and taking listeners on a road trip into aural imagination far away from the streets of Buffalo… and Hawkins Indiana.
SURVIVE play the Studio at the Studio at Waiting Room November 3rd.