Neon Indian – Era Extrana

What happens when a chillwave artist spends a winter of solitude in Helsinki, Finland? Era Extrana, Neon Indian’s newest album is produced. Alan Palomo is a Texas-raised indie and electronic artist and has just released his second album, a compilation of 12 heavyhearted tracks under the album name Era Extrana.

Swooning synths take over the ears in the singles, “Polish Girl” and “Halogen (I Could Be A Shadow).” Era Extrana is filled with waves upon waves of synthesized sound, with some running water, phone rings and other irregular sound effects scattered in there. However, Era Extrana is anything but sloppy. In fact, the album unifies in sound and vibe. The heavy, hypnotizing tracks are melodious and rhythmic enough to be enjoyed live, but the album was written in solitude, and has the unmistakable sense of heart break. The lyrics are reminiscent of lost love and regret. Do I still cross your mind/Your face distorts the time/With heat struck afternoons long through/Those idle dreams go back to you.

Overall, there is not much variety within the album, yet Neon Indian has surpassed Psychic Chasms and created a truly unique, genre-defining piece of art that is Era Extrana.

I give it a B.

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Sebastian at the Avalon, Hollywood CA

@Till_the_AM: Sebasian, French electro DJ performed at the Avalon in Hollywood, CA. French propaganda, layered synths, and chain smoking.

On Friday September 9th a few minutes before midnight, passionate screams were drowned out by blaring synths that reverberated across the Avalon nightclub in Hollywood. A large French flag was rolled down on the backdrop of the center stage to announce the start of hard electro DJ Sebastian’s set. Sebastian is a French artist beloved to fans all over the world, and he was shown a good amount of Los Angeles love on this sweltering Hollywood night.

With a stolid expression and the first of many lit cigarettes in hand, Sebastian captivated the mostly male crowd with a dramatic musical intro to his 90-minute set. The decorative, high-ceilinged nightclub morphed into a vampire’s dungeon as the French house DJ set the mood for the hundreds of concert goers.

Sebastian is known for his French electro house music along with his association with Ed Banger Records and remixes for Daft Punk, Rapture, and label-mate Uffie. Sebastian is also recognized for his filthy on stage chain-smoking habit. Sebastian decided to make Los Angeles the 6th destination of his international “Primary Tour”.

Contrasting with the high energy opening set of Destructo, DJ and founder of HARD events, Sebastian’s performance was austere and scattered with French political propaganda that played on the screen behind the dark DJ. “VOTE SEBASTIAN FOR PRESIDENT”, bannered across the screen amongst other images of French war propaganda. There was no detail as to why someone should vote this French DJ for president, making his act a self-absorbed gimmick. This was absolutely fine by me.

Making good use of his layered synthesizer, Sebastian produced buildup to drop layered over basic drum tracks as one would come to expect at a hard electro concert. But what made this particular show stand out was not only the blaring, grinding beats executed to electronic perfection, but the concert vibe. Sebastian was exhibiting a classic Frenchman stereotype with his navy-colored conservative suit jacket, angry unchanging expression, and incessant chain-smoking. This became a palpable point of adoration amongst the Hollywood crowd (about as stereotypical diverse consumer American as it gets out here). Nevertheless, the musical intricacy was undeniably there. Sebastian created a theatrical faux assassination of himself with loud gunshot effects. His performance ended with an encore of “Embody,” his most popular song.

As if the smoky torture chamber atmosphere, pervasive electronic beats, and political décor weren’t intense enough, Sebastian added a positively horrific stage video about 60 minutes into his set. The audience cringed in disgust yet stared in fascination as gruesome images of mutilation and pornography flashed across the screen. Sebastian played with the fact that people are simultaneously drawn to and repelled by gore, and that viewers consider a hardcore show of blood and guts to be an uplifting escape. Sexual, violent, and everything wrong with society. But that’s human nature, Hollywood, and the electronic music scene for you, isn’t it?

Sebastian at The Avalon 9/9/11