“Don’t ever stop touching me”
Who: Lindsey French
What: Synthpop, Ambient Pop, Dead Eyed Romance Across The Room
Where: New York City
Why: I have a terrible habit. I mean, terrible is of course, relative, I’m not an alcoholic, and I have no desire to start any sort of hard drug habit so I guess it could always be worse. Nonetheless though, my habit ruins a lot of days. Or my nights, more specifically. It’s an exceedingly dumb habit really, forcing myself to spend the early hours of almost every weekend night scrolling and scrolling through the thousands of albums and releases listed on RYM looking for something interesting to write about. Sometimes, I punch in a random country into the search bar, or other times I’ll just pick a random genre right out of the air, and then meticulously listen to each and everything on that list, from top to bottom.
Let me tell you, don’t ever think that the vast majority of music is good. It is not. And even more than that, don’t ever think that even a small minority of music is engaging. Because it’s really a fraction of a fraction of a fraction, and even then, there’s only a small fraction of that music that I think is truly great. Note how long it has been since my last New Band Of The Day post (two months, though let it be noted that I predicted Octavian’s meteoric rise, so there might be method to my madness). And this gap is not from lack of searching, I mean Jesus Christ, I’ve probably listened to pieces of a thousand different albums since then. It’s from a lack of music that even made me care enough to write anything. And, ok, I’ll admit that I have a bit of a specific taste, a love for oddities, but still, it’s been a rough few months.
Enter Negative Gemini. On a particularly boring 3 AM Saturday search I found her new 2018 EP Bad Baby. Drawn in because of its inclusion of the always strange genre-tag “Atmospheric Drum and Bass”, a label which only ever really made any sense for Christoph De Bablon, but whatever, I was interested. At first, it seemed like the kind of half-formed mess that I know too well from browsing so deep into these lists, where talent, luck, and amateurishness melt into a pile so indecipherable where it becomes impossible to tell if anything interesting is happening at all. But I persevered past that sort of gut reaction, and boy am I glad I did.
After a cursory listen to the EP’s first track “Infin Path”, I cast myself a little “fuck it” and decided to give her some more concerted focus. Switched on the video for the title track “Bad Baby”, and I was just, absolutely mesmerized. The droney aesthetic and romantic detachment I shrugged off as pointless navel gazing just a minute ago began to make so much sense. The frank DIY nature of the video, the dead-eyed glare of Lindsey as she jumps around in her thrown together outfits and rolls around on the floor like a limp body being pushed by a stick, it wasn’t just indie posturing, it was real. The soaking wet, reverb-drenched synths and shuffling drums weren’t just there to overwhelm her vocals, they were there to drown her. A genuine mixing ethos, instead of just cover for lazy musicianship, as despondency becomes manifest in complete detachment. And when those emotionless, ringing ‘you’re really bad baby’ refrains come in, you can really see that mental portrait of Lindsey mindlessly calling out to her lover with ironic disinterest. Self-loathing delivered so casually you are sure it’s confidence.
Along with contemporaries like Kelly Lee Owens, Nicolas Jaar, or Yeaji, Negative Gemini’s talent lies as a songwriter first, and her electronic sensibilities simply work to evoke that earnesty and craft in a purer form. Where NG focuses on the song first, like on “Infin Path” or “Bad Baby” it feels bleeding edge and vital. When she doesn’t, it still feels exploratory, or haunting, or beautiful, albeit not so vitally.
It turns out I’m not the first to notice Negative Gemini, much to my chagrin, as Lindsey has already received her more than deserved shout-outs from a few notable music publications (even the highly coveted Pitchfork fluff track review), but I was happy to find her nonetheless. She’s not a smash hit yet, but she’s interesting, she gets the kids going, and god damn it I’ve missed that.
Listen to Bad Baby now on Bandcamp or on Apple Music/Spotify.
Photo Credit of Anna Maria Lopez