Xeno & Oaklander
Xeno & Oaklander are a minimal electronics / synth pop duo (Liz Wendelbo and Sean McBride of Martial Canterel) based in Brooklyn, New York. As artists, they have been deeply involved in the analog synth community since 2004 (the release of their debut Vigils LP on Xanten), and have helped promote and inspire the revival of synth wave in the US and throughout the world through their extensive touring and prolific output.
Following their debut on Xanten, they released the Sentinelle and Sets & Lights albums on Wierd before signing on to Ghostly International, where they unveiled their widely acclaimed albums Par Avion and Topiary, introducing their innovative mastery of analog synth production to a wider audience. During the Ghostly album sessions, the duo also recorded Movements and Movements 2 commissioned by the National Center for the Arts, Grenoble, and Ecole du Magasin: an inspirational 35 minute piece recorded live and inspired by travel in space and time.
Xeno & Oaklander record their songs and film scores in their Brooklyn studio and are known for their commitment to recording on and performing on analogue synthesizers exclusively. They perform both at art institutions and music venues worldwide, and have performed at SF Moma, PS1 Warm Up, Miami Art Basel, Kunsthalle Zürich & the New Museum NY with sold out shows at Echoplex LA, Elsewhere NY & El Club Detroit.
On Hypnos the duo leveraged the talents of visual artist and live sound engineer Egan Frantz to mix the album. It’s a touch that adds both punch and balance, allowing their inherent conceptual voices to converge into a collage with defined edges and warm, synapses of frequency and beat.
"Musically, Hypnos is a return to polyphony after several years of using strictly monophonic synthesizers,” McBride says about the album’s ethos. “This has brought dense harmonies and a more complex counterpoint to the composition. Staying with the same equipment and processes without the inveterate compulsion to update and refashion allows for a clearly perceivable genealogy with our previous work.”
“I felt the desire to tell mythical stories, I also wanted my voice to sit strongly in the mix,” Wendelbo explains. “I channeled the spirits of 60s French Pop chanteuse Françoise Hardy and 80s New Wave New York icon Tina Weymouth.” Her intentions are best evidenced on the tracks “Angelique,”and “Insomnia,” the former a spry track sung in French, against a springy rhythm. Laden with expanding and contrasting frequency and a penchant for strategic rhythm, Hypnos juxtaposes dance with distance, creating an immersive oeuvre that exudes contrast and control.
In 2021, the duo released VI/DEO, conceived while sequestered at their Southern Connecticut home studio during the pandemic. The context of isolation, streaming, and remote dreaming seeped into their chemistry, manifesting as both homage to and meditation on a certain cinematic strain of technicolor fantasy: the screen as stage, distance disguised as intimacy, where tragedy and glamor crossfade into one.