Adult.

Detroit House Guests

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Track Listing

    Track Title

    Time

  1. P rts M ss ng 5:59
  2. Breathe On 3:59
  3. Into the Drum 5:58
  4. We Are a Mirror 5:02
  5. Enter the Fray 5:41
  6. Uncomfortable Positions 5:02
  7. We Chase the Sound 6:15
  8. They’re Just Words 3:48
  9. Inexhaustible 3:44
  10. Stop (And Start Again) 3:17
  11. This Situation 8:20
  12. As You Dream 4:22

Review

It's important to remember that Adult.'s Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller are established visual artists as well as musicians, and have exhibited their work in spaces around the world. While their last album, The Way Things Fall, was some of their poppiest music yet, their Mute debut, Detroit House Guests, sounds more like a gallery installation than a set of danceable tracks. The album's roots are just as conceptual as any of the duo's other works of art: in the early 2000s, Kuperus and Miller had the idea to host musicians at their studio for up to three weeks at a time, living and working together, and were able to make it a reality after receiving a grant from the John S. James L. Knight Foundation in 2014. The duo's "house guests" included Lichens' Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, Austrian thereminist Dorit Chrysler, Swans' Michael Gira, Nitzer Ebb's Douglas J. McCarthy, Light Asylum's Shannon Funchess, and Japanese multimedia artist Lunnah Menoh. Perhaps because Adult. and their collaborators spent so much time together as they worked, the interplay on each of Detroit House Guests' pieces feels organic. Early in the album, Adult. and company express the uneasiness within all of Miller and Kuperus' music in subtle but persistent ways; "P rts M ss ng" borrows some of Lichens' evocative qualities for a meditative -- but still unsettling -- opening track. The mood deepens on the Gira collaboration "Breathe On," where Kuperus' icy mantra of "no sense/nonsense" feels designed to tear apart the fabric of reality. Later, the tracks with Menoh -- whose wild vocalizing adds an extra eeriness to "Into the Drum" -- and Chrysler have a prickly strangeness and disorienting repetition that underscores the project's conceptual art roots. Detroit House Guests does allow the occasional breather from the rest of the album's rarefied air: the McCarthy collaboration "We Are a Mirror" brings some groove to the proceedings, with steel drum-like tones that give the track an avant-garde tropical industrial feel. As always, Funchess electrifies every project she's involved in, lending a predatory sensuality to "We Chase the Sound" and adding muscle to Kuperus' haughty precision on "Stop (And Start Again)." Nevertheless, accessibility isn't the main priority here; this is Adult.'s music as cerebral, hypnotic sound art. Considering how even The Way Things Fall's catchiest moments had more than a little irony to them, it's possible that Kuperus and Miller's natural habitat at this point is the gallery. Regardless, Detroit House Guests is a project with results that are as intriguing as the process. ~ Heather Phares, Rovi