I'm guessing you know Durham electropop duo Sylvan Esso, who garnered national attention last year with a slew of excellent singles and a big debut LP. Earworm tunes like “Hey Mami” and “Coffee” eventually propelled them to sold-out shows, a Coachella booking and a performance on Jimmy Fallon. So what’s next?
As the band figures that out, half of the group, producer Nick Sanborn, has set out on his own with a solo project that actually predates Sylvan Esso, Made of Oak. His debut EP, Penumbra, is out Nov. 6 via Partisan Records, and the brooding, Moog-heavy “Pinebender” is the project’s first salvo.
Sanborn’s slinky bass maneuvers and intricate percussion are immediately recognizable, but a menace lurks underneath this track that you don't much hear in Sylvan Esso. Sanborn turns to dark, unadorned synths for his leads, backed by cosmic bursts of glitchy noise and deep bass. Sylvan Esso fans who enjoy the band’s more melancholic side will find a lot to like in the textures here.
The accompanying video, done by Endless Endless, portrays a Kristof Wickman sculpture of two arms intertwined, hands tightly clasped. It’s highly unsettling stuff, in a good way.