The Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti's new solo album 'Conduit' is a harmonious, well-produced concoction of new wave sounds
Fabrizio Moretti, the Strokes drummer, has been inconspicuously working on a side project, 'Conduit', and according to Stereogum, the album suddenly appeared on digital streaming platforms over the weekend without any forewarning.
Moretti, the Brazilian-American musician has been with The Strokes since their origin in 1998 and is also part of Brazilian/American rock supergroup Little Joy. Since 2012 he has also worked on numerous art projects.
With the curious reveal of his new debut solo album, he has gone with the name Machinegum as his extra-musical alias, and what we have is a harmonious, well-produced concoction of new wave, contemporary indie, synth-pop, and even a '70s disco spin. The album appears to add themes and sounds that could be likened to The Cure or Bauhaus. Moretti carries a deep swooning voice partnered with harmonious multi-layered synth and guitar. The recording quality implies a more melodic and soothing effect, with The Strokes counterpart traditionally having a more dry, gritty and punchy sound to their indie rock 'n' roll. According to NME, the 11-track album features contributions from Nation of Language singer Ian Devaney and production by Jake Aron (Snail Mail, Barrie) and Andrew Maury (Kimbra, Ra Ra Riot).
The first track on the album, 'Atomized' instantly sparks reminders of '70s disco themes with its opening of catchy basslines and cheeky guitar licks. The song incorporates different vocals atop one another: a hauntingly distorted deep voice over rich, reverberating higher voices, both echoing a contrast of sadness and positivity.
The album quickly varies in sprinkling in different styles while still retaining its new-wave synthified leitmotif with songs like 'Act of Contrition' attributing a cyberpunk-type theme; one could easily mistake it for a backing track for a 'Blade Runner' film. Additionally, there are songs like E.T.C. with its Hawaiian-esque Beach Boys effect and 'Kubes' with its riding rhythmic pace, similar to the likes of Bauhaus.
'City Walls' and even 'Sugar and Vice' implement an obscure-doppelganger sort of '70s crime show rhythm with artistic suspense from a different era. Moretti's deep relaxed vocals amidst such a score in 'City Walls' paint a hypnotic picture as the song pushes at a steady pace.
Moretti has captured a multi-faceted portrait that relies on the obscure and although the album flavors itself with sprinkles of different influences here and there, the underlying new wave element consistently shines through with a strong emphasis on electronic. It appeals as an undercover acquired taste which aims for something new, yet leaves a sense of mystery of the artist and what inspirations the album draws from.