darkDARK is Genevieve Vincent and Chris James, the former based in LA, the latter in Austin.
Ghost Complex is their latest album, a sci-fi concept record about a pair of AI living in a post-human world, grappling with the choice between creation and replication, forced to confront the ambiguity of sentience. Humans left them a set of songs, designed as fables, so that the pair might recreate civilization in humanity’s image. The central question is whether will they accept their role as custodians of the past or choose to become architects of their own future?
Societal AI OD aside, this is a resonant question for us humans too. Do we use our energy to focus on doing something truly original, or do we accept we are products of our influences and make the most of that? I live primarily in the second camp. I expect Vincent and James do too. The album is delicate and beautiful, but also doesn’t seem to shy away from honoring its stylistic inspiration. Getting too specific with genre or reference points–when we’re ultimately dealing with pop music–is maybe a touch superfluous, but for me, Ghost Complex sits somewhere between the gauzy UK and Scandinavian trip-pop of the late 90s and early aughts, and a minimalist strain of blade runner revivalism; plus probably also with a dose of the graceful quality of a record like Chairlift’s Moth.
Notwithstanding the satisfying chunk of the bass on songs like “Cult” and “Petals”, darkDARK are best at their most gossamer. Album opener “Face With No Name” is the one that gets me the best. Vincent’s vocal delivery skips over the air, playing carefully with the bed of Rhodes beneath it. The shared fx on both elements automates exquisitely until you’re not quite sure what’s what. It’s all nicely suggestive of the album’s concept of a pair of machines wondering whether to emulate or separate from humans.
This is high-concept stuff, sure, but far more importantly, the album is really easy on the ears. No bandcamp for this, unfortunately, so go find it on streaming services.
darkDARK – “Face With No Name” (sc)
darkDARK – “Cult” (sc)
darkDARK – “We Had Everything” (sc)