STM 150 - Xeno & Oaklander

Minimal wave / synth pop from Brooklyn, New York by Miss Liz Wendelbo, Sean McBride
Photo by Liz Wendelbo

A beautiful and enchanting selection by Xeno & Oaklander, compiled of diverse pieces ranging from renaissance music to 80’s underground wave experiments.

A beautiful and enchanting selection by Xeno & Oaklander, compiled of diverse pieces ranging from renaissance music to 80’s underground wave experiments.

Xeno & Oaklander is a synth/coldwave duo from Brooklyn, New York. Their cold and elegant sonic landscapes merge the noirish melancholy of '80s synth music with Proustian nostalgia and retrospective romanticism. Their sound has always had a futurist twist, infused with moody synth pulsations and traces of decadence. The hazy melodies, multilayered analog structure, and classy pop sensibility of Xeno & Oaklander balance nicely between the experimental fringe and classical elegance. Their sound is crystal clear, bright, emotional, and feels like an introspective trip through twilit streets. Throughout their three full-lengths, which came out on Wierd Records and Ghostly International, the duo has gradually constructed and defined their secluded, mysterious, cold, yet oh-so-inviting artistic space.

Secret Thirteen Mix 150 showcases the more organic and atmospheric textural core of Xeno & Oaklander’s influences by merging various synth/coldwave obscurities together with more abstract pieces from the domains of ambient, experimental, and chamber music. Field recordings give the selection a distinct psychogeographical flow and whimsical warmth, as they lead the listener from the tranquil and mesmerizing chirping of Marghera birds and Maryland rain, to the monolithic echoes of a DC subway. These contrasts emphasize the varied nature of the mix’s narrative, where the gritty industrialized post-punk of Pankow coexists with Jordi Savall’s magnificent rendition of a 16th-century composition by Diego Ortiz. Upon conclusion, the latter suddenly shifts into the saxophone-flavored nocturnal melodicism of Dutch post-punk outfit Flue, and the futuristic kosmische voyages of Franco Battiato. The Coombes’ calm piano-based miniature gives way to the heartfelt balladry of Kid Montana. Afterwards, the subway sounds calmly transfer us into a wonderful Renaissance masterpiece by Tomás Luis de Victoria. Finally, the mix progresses through raw drone pulses and assorted lost gems from the '80s, including tracks by such artists as Japanese goth explorer Viola Renea or the weird and proggy Tan Zero. This selection has a very powerful emotional core, and the duo’s words quoted below very accurately describe its essence. It is indeed a perfect companion for hazy walks around the old town, observing passers-by, trains, or merely clouds.

The tone of the mix is reminiscent of the luminous “Our Banner in the Sky” by American landscape master Frederic Edwin Church, due to how beautifully it captures the magical fusion of sunlit horizon and emerging night-sky.

01. Xeno & Oaklander - Birds of Marghera (Field Recording) [Previously Unreleased]
02. Jordi Savall (Diego Ortiz) - La Spagna. Hespèrion XXI
03. Flue - Topic [Torso, 1983]
04. Ian Elms - No Longer [Squid Marks Time, 1982]
05. Franco Battiato - I Cancelli Della Memoria [Island Records, 1975]
06. The Coombe - Under The Mantle [Mannequin, 2013]
07. Kid Montana - Fitting The Screen [Antler Records, 1984]
08. Xeno & Oaklander - D.C Subway (Field Recording) [Previously Unreleased]
09. Tomás Luis De Victoria - Motet: O Magnum Mysterium [Hyperion, 1986]
10. :zoviet-france: - Tier of Veils [Singing Ringing, 1985]
11. Les Joyaux De La Princesse & Regard Extrême - Tiefe Sehnsucht (Zu Neuen Ufern) [Les Joyaux De La Princesse, 1995]
12. Pankow - We Are The Joy [Electric Eye Records, 1982]
13. Xeno & Oaklander - Maryland Rain (Field Recording) [Previously Unreleased]
14. Viola Renea - ハイヒールの怪 [かげろうレコード, 198?]
15. Satin Wall - Dans Les Profondeurs [Sandwich Records, 1981]
16. Tan Zero - We Can't Imagine [Hiara Records, 1987]

About Author

Paulius Ilevicius is a Secret Thirteen journalist, editor and occasional DJ focusing on more dreamy and melancholic soundscapes. Born in post-industrial town of Pavevezys, currently he lives and works in Vilnius, Lithuania.

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