Usually chaos isn’t a positive aspect of an album – however, Doldrums have created an intriguing exception to this rule with The Air Conditioned Nightmare. Inspired by the works of Henry Miller, the music conjured up by Airick Woodhead (who mixes punk rock vocals with DJ produced samples and sounds in place of a guitar truly) does the American writer justice, with his famous quote “nowhere else in the world is the divorce between man and nature so complete”.
Every track represents a dimension of conflict, an agitating but poetic approach to the representation of the post-modern society that we have today, where beliefs and units have broken down leaving behind infinite reasons to be afraid. The Air Conditioned Nightmare opens up a dark insight of detachment and a terrifying vision of a dystopian future. The first track, ‘Hotfoot’ explores a conflict of wanting; a desire to interact with the outer world, only it collides with an internal fear, “I’m going down deeper into the mud” but he’s clawing, desperately, to reach out to external existence and understand reality and his place in it, “I’m keepin’ on on the natural phase, just to know I’m still here”. The sampled beat builds up a stomach stabbing sensation merged into Woodhead’s brilliantly ethereal and punchy voice.
It’s hard to avoid, when listening to the rest of the album, a sense of the peculiar and a confused consistency. Woodhead creates this numbness from which the mellow but overwhelming beats, especially on tracks like ‘We Awake’ and ‘Funeral For Lightening’, have been produced, to reflect his feelings of living in an overly developed society. The consistency of calm melody and emotionally esoteric lyrics throughout the album are an invitation into Woodhead’s world and mind, his opinions that we are slaves to industry, technology and consumerism that has zombified us, but we are still bursting with emotions which no longer have an outlet and are the ultimate source of all anxiety. This is the central theme of the album, “the threat of a mundane reality ties it together, as does an obsession with plasticity. Songs come from specific feelings or images. Anxiety is my default state”.
Listening to The Air Conditioned Nightmare is a wonderful experience and Doldrums have really created their own niche with the way they construct music – it’s so intense that breaks from listening had to be taken. The ending, with the songs ‘Industry City’ and ‘Closer 2 U’, keeps up the oddly comforting numbness and doesn’t really provide a concrete end to the album, leaving us with an emotional cliff-hanger almost as if to say sensations of anxiety will never end too.
– Sasha Hodes
Venue: The Air Conditioned Nightmare
Support Band: Sub Pop