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Telepathe: A Different Sort of Minimal Synth

4 August 2009

‘Minimal Synth’ might first evince previously discussed Wierd Records bands like Martial Canterel – bands that made their descent from the cloudy ashes of Suicide, DAF, or Absolute Body Control. It’s not quite the case with Telepathe, a colorful Brooklyn duo with equal parts hip hop and synthpop apparent in their spartan beats – and yet they are still very much of the moniker ‘minimal synth’.

On Dance Mother, BUSY GANGNES and MELISSA LIVAUDAIS‘s first full-length, austere melodies and stark rhythmic attacks are placed just as high in the mix as the unaffected vocals, creating a streamlined, dance-ready sound. Produced by TV ON THE RADIO‘s DAVE SITEK for IAMSOUND Records, a pop sensibility is evident, although not without hints of the pair’s experimental leanings. This place firmly between indie and avant pop was further solidified with a major tour supporting THE FAINT and LADYTRON last Spring. A perfect fit, it seemed to me. Since then, the single “Chrome’s On It” has hit playlists across the country: I’ve heard it spun from New York to San Francisco in the strangest of places.

When attending the record release party for Telepathe (pronounced TE-LE-PATH-EE) back in April at The Annex, I couldn’t help being impressed by the sheer eclecticism of the crowd. The sold out show was populated with everyone from spooky minimal synth kids to B-Boys/Girls and indie rocker types. Busy and Melissa spent a while doggedly setting up their own gear while the crowd whistled and shouted in anticipation for them to start. The two’s laid back aura as they made an entrance in green and purple nylon homemade hoodies made the show even more of a strange, all-inclusive event. There was little fanfare as the drum and synth loops were set in motion. Telepathe played the abovementioned single to much delight, as well as tracks off of Dance Mother such as “Lights Go Down” and my favorite, “So Fine.” The latter is haunting and strident with an streak of ethereal sweetness invoking Italo disco at times. By the end of the night, the crowd was thoroughly pleased: Like so many minimal synth groups of their ilk and the darker variety, the show is much more about the music and the manipulation of machines than any kind of theatrical performance. If you came to dance, drink, and drone out, it was a delight.

To experience Telepathe for yourself, the duo will hit up the ever-so-electro GBH Party at Webster Hall on September 18.

Also see upcoming Big Takeover #65 for a full review of Dance Mother.