Kontravoid Detachment

Kontravoid Takes Listeners On A Darkly Inventive Synthpop Journey With New Album Detachment

On his latest release, the LA-based musician Cameron Findlay blends classic 80s synth influences with industrial-sounding beats.

Many artists combine darkness with upbeat elements, yet, the way this manifests is often unique. For Kontravoid, the solo project of ex-Crystal Castles drummer Cameron Findlay, this means taking an inspired approach. Blending classic 80s synth influences with almost industrial-sounding beats, he broadens the contrasts expected from the style whilst managing to maintain his own thumbprint too.

After having left Crystal Castles, Findlay released his debut album, which was self-titled, in 2012. Since then, singles such as “Too Deep” and “Undone” offered fans an uncanny balance between club hits and more alternative, edgier fare. Yet Findlay is unashamed about his love for pop, saying once in an interview with Bandcamp Daily that he was “obsessed with all the hits”. His latest album, Detachment feels like the more mature work of an artist who has found the glue that balances different musical loves.

The record itself might have a moody, anhedonic name, although it’s far from it, musically. The album starts off dark and percussive, but throughout manages to throw some surprising curveballs as well as offer light relief, whilst still maintaining a sense of motion and purpose. For Findlay, the sadness and turbulence that surrounded Kontravoid’s formation was felt in the first self-titled LP released for the project. Now, however, it is apparent he has managed to preserve the most influential of the emotions from then, whilst not staying in the past. Instead, he managed to warp and twist them into something new.

Overall, the strengths of the album really shine through with the lead single “For What It Is” which starts with a syncopated synth percussion beat and high pads. It reaches its peak with a layered chorus with generous double tracking where Findlay’s vocals showcase their full range. With deep, guttural tones he introduces the pre-chorus before breaking out into the main part in full force. This is a pop-adjacent yet dark and fun track that has plenty of emo and underground alternative in its spirit even if its musical influences are from elsewhere.

Next, he showcases his versatility with “Losing Game”, a track that features non other than Chelsey Crowley of Nuovo Testamento, making it a real feast for fans spanning the sound of 80s synthpop. Crowley’s soaring vocals offer a delightful contrast, culminating in a satisfying conclusion to the album’s first segment.

Since his debut, Kontravoid has truly found a niche within alternative synthpop but how does Findlay manage to create such gritty and authentic music? It’s easy to see where his pop sensibilities come in. Even though Detachment is obviously an album that doesn’t shy away from darker areas, the titles of “Sin Walker” and “Death Shot” bely the infectious melodies that underpin them.

Findlay has also previously spoken about his EBM influences, which began to appear in his music after the release of his debut record.EBM blends danceability with brooding, pulsating rhythms, reflecting an artist drawn to pop yet committed to preserving Kontravoid’s emotionally charged origins. These influences are unmistakable, but Findlay’s preference for gentler, vintage 80s tones infuses them with an emotional depth that transcends mere rhythm.

All in all, there are more influences to pick up with each listen. The softer synths are occasionally – very occasionally, and in tone alone – reminiscent of poppier 80s acts like Depeche Mode, some of David Bowie’s later work, and Billy Idol. It’s unclear how much of these influences genuinely fed into the creative process behind Detachment. But either way, it’s a bold move for him to include softer and more pop-oriented tones. It also pays off, as the differences between the tracks make it an exciting, versatile, and hugely listenable album.

In summary, Detachment is a balanced album that throws some surprising twists and turns. Seeming like it might start out darker than it actually does, the grinding beats and strangely melodic toplines counterbalance each other so that the strongest emotions stick out due to their contrasts. It’s clear that despite the broken circumstances in which Kontravoid was formed, Findlay has managed to channel a lot of turbulence into something that is both musically inventive and emotionally complete. With his previous influences blending together here, it’s still uncertain based off Detachment which directions the project may go in the future – but with this new release, there is more than enough to keep everyone satisfied in the meantime.

Kontravoid’s new album Detachment is out now via Artoffact Records available on all platforms as well as on CD and vinyl here.

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Kontravoid (US)


Featured Image by Nedda Afsari

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