Review: Digitata – Sexually Transmitted Emotions (2005)
The last trip to Minneapolis brought back memories and, more music-based, Maggie Morrison’s Lookbook. The word was that she had a tremendous voice confirmed during the Eau Claire native’s performance at the Pizza LuceBlock Party. Since then, Minneapolis/Eau Claire cohorts Gayngs went out on their first tour. Since then, I discovered an electronic, indie pop project combining Maggie and Gayngs’ ringleader Ryan Olson with drummer Drew Christopherson in the form of Digitata.
Produced by Jaime Hansen, Sexually Transmitted Emotions is a short LP, lengthened EP chock full of what electro-pop should be. Christopherson’s drumming is an actual drum kit, akin to Yelle‘s GrandMarnier‘s live presence. The only electricity-infusion comes by way of Olson’s sequencing, as on opener “What’s Cookin’”. It enters subtly, as if not to scare away Maggie Morrison’s smooth voice at first, but to warm up to her. Once it does, the sequencer soars and contorts as her voice slides upwards towards the laser and black-lit ceilings.
“Anyway You Work It” inserts a sense of bewilderment at the comparative silence to what your ears just experienced until halfway through, when the drums return. It’s barren, catchy, but as still as a tumbleweed in a vacuum tunnel in the Badlands. Its contradiction is its follow-up, “Oscar Wilde Breakdown”. For a minute, it is as dreamy as a Gorilla vs. Bear Polaroid, rocking you like a disco-loving mother lulling you into a 3:30 AM haze. Half the time, you don’t know what Maggie’s singing, but that’s mere unnecessary details that are soon shaken out with her short, sung cuts-soon thereafter interrupted by a wonderfully mixed synth. It snaps your attention, pulling your ears left to right before all continues unbeknownst of Ryan Olson’s interjection. This distracted daze continues with an inveigling Wurlitzer that draws the listener towards the organic before Olson’s synthesizer returns, accompanying the keys in a haltingly captivating electro-pop blend.
“For the Well to Break Tonight” is the only stand-alone track that should stand alone, as it detracts from the otherwise mix of uptempo electro-pop that just tempts you to convert your living room into a decadent, dimly lit lounge. “2 2 Tail” is that time when everyone has arrived, the stragglers are stuck in an impenetrable queue, and the beat threatens the very concrete foundation of the room. The production surrounds with Maggie’s voice chopped and pulsated left and right. It all drops later on, phenomenally, and returns in a way only the cream of the house DJs crop can ever achieve.
For a debut release, Sexually Transmitted Emotions is exactly what the current brew of electronic, disco and indie pop should be. Sure, the hooks will not jump out and seize you immediately, but the ones that do will burrow, grow, and feed you a captivating dose of late-night, well developed music many American artists have failed to achieve even years after its release.
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