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xeno and oaklander create a universe where technology is beautifully timeless, where electricity pulses with vigor and effortless finesse. the standard meaning of 'ghosts of technology,' with its equally standard images of looming architecture and lifeless shells of machines, is rendered obsolete. nimble electronic melodies sing, stretch and glow like elegant apparitions. grandiosity and restraint live harmoniously side-by side, just as the dual vocals of mcbride and wendelbo weave in and out of one another, sometimes an isolated croon and sometimes a layered texture. from the title track, with its thumping robotic heartbeat to the orchestral (yet still danceable), transportive instrumental 'italy,' 'sets and lights' is a record that invites the listener to become fully immersed. tracks like 'blue' and 'the staircase' are punchy sing-a-long industrial pop songs while 'desert rose' uses lush synthesizer textures to rival the most forlorn folk balladeer. the interplay between mcbride and wendelbo yields very little that is conventional, but quite a lot that's alluring. theirs is an enigmatic combination of various sensibilities that nevertheless produces a singularly focused vision. mcbride sings, 'the theater, the stage, the sets the lights, masking some grand delight.' this is a record that makes the most of the power of electronic instruments to set a scene, to evoke intrigue, and to invite the mind to wander into those shadowy places where grand delights hide.
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