Metagami/self-titled – Avagami/Encomiast

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Chicago-based Lens Records has their focus on the independent and experimental, and their latest releases fit the bill. First up is Avagami, a duo hell bent on freaking the pop aesthetic. One could say that their vision is a peripheral one: While the verse-chorus-verse strategy remains intact, its execution sends it careening way off to the side. The end result is new wave mixed with Krautrock and topped off with overblown lounge singing. It's an acquired taste to be sure, but “Mushy” could do wonders if released as a single. Its catchy lyrics and synth-pop melody does its finest to woo you over to the pop side while its vocal harmonies and frenetic breaks shake any notion of staid imitation; these guys have a bag of tricks and they use them freely. On a much darker note, the self-titled album from Encomiast contains ambient drones of despair and foreboding. Reoccurring surges of noise keep this an anxiety-prone listen. It's a music score for paranoid isolationists; you either like this type of stuff or you don’t. This is recommended listening if groups like The Orb are too fluffy for you.