Fair warning: Listening to “Birthday Party” for the first time can be a jarring experience. The relentless assault of warped melodies, hyperkinetic beats, and frazzled, glitched-out noise strikes from every conceivable angle and it’s impossible to predict where or when the next contorted mutation is going to hit. Created by composer Michael Hollis, who records and performs under the moniker x.nte, the track feels far beyond the product of a mere hyperactive imagination, almost like the sound of a brain exploding with a barrage of ideas or more so fragments of ideas. What opens as an elegant piano melody quickly rockets off into what seems like a thousand different possibilities, each machine gun snare and spliced sample kamikaze-ing into the next. As a listener, it’s a whole lot to take in, and it begs the question: where does this ceaseless bombardment of sounds come from?
“I’m not sure if my creations come from a place of deep contemplation or a place of divergence,” Hollis reveals via email. “Actually, the name x.nte is an abbreviation for mental divergence (anXious, Nervous, Tired, Endlessly). Whenever I listen to any type of music, I imagine a story or scenario to go along. When listening to my own the scenarios range from the grand & musical to the dangerous & intense. I create things in a somewhat mindless way. I have a formula that helps me get started but as I work through it is mostly tinkering until I find something that works. Usually I’ll start with melody first before adding layers of chaos on top.”
For Hollis, “Birthday Party” marks the first track to be revealed from his first ever full-length project, CLOUD2. Although he’s been composing and experimenting with electronic music since roughly 2010, Hollis has written and recorded mostly in private, rarely feeling confident enough to share his compositions publicly. But in 2016, just as he was beginning to find his voice as x.nte, that diffidence began to evolve into conviction and self-assurance.
“At the time I started x.nte, I felt that I was finished practicing,” Hollis explains. “I had years of trial and error practice and gained more knowledge of what was relevant after listening to more and more underground producers. I wanted to do this right, severing all ties with past projects, being more cautious with what I choose to release and where. CLOUD2 is the very first full release of mine. I’ve had two splits prior released with people and on places I never expected. I’m finally happy to share my creations with my friends, my family, and whoever it may reach.”
CLOUD2 is out tomorrow via \\NULL|ZØNE//.