Part of that crop of slightly spooky sensualists engaging in eerie structure-free electronica, San Francisco’s oOoOO (aka Christopher Dexter Greenspan) will be releasing his second EP Our Loving is Hurting Us, on Tri Angle next April. Along with the likes of North West England’s Evian Christ and Michigan’s Salem, he has come to be known as part of that geographically scattered cultural phenomenon of drag music. They’ve also been hard-pressed at avoiding that other fallacious ‘witch house’ tag –inadvertently applied by one of their own, Pictureplane’s Travis Egedy –while the attention generated by the likes of goth electro artist Zola Jesus made the term feel even broader. That’s despite the fact the Russian-American is sooner inspired by the black metal of Mikko Aspa than Destiny’s Child and Rick Ross. In fact, oOoOO features on a brilliant cover of the latter Mafioso rapper’s Hustlin’ by Parisian DJ Butterclock. She also offers her vocals to a couple of tracks on Our Loving is Hurting Us and occasionally performs with Greenspan live since hooking up online last year.
As the embodiment of this weird synthetic fusion of what you could lazily call ‘industrial pop’, the EP is recorded across San Francisco, Brooklyn and Berlin, released by UK-US label Tri Angle and shares an affinity with bands on Houston’s Disaro Records. In fact, it looks like drag owes its very existence to the world wide web, even as it appears to try to avoid it. Considering many of the performers under the same umbrella are in the late-teens to early 20s, hence born in the 90s and raised on the Internet, you could imagine the line between the real and the virtual world is pretty indistinguishable. So when popular culture and the underground fade into each other and everything is up for the taking on this hypercapitalist [search] engine for free information, those who want to hide, do it as best they know how.
They employ MacBook-only symbols to make up names, like GuMMy†Be∆R! and //∆∆∆\\, near-impossible to find through your regular Google search and often refuse to show what they look like. Disaro artist o F F goes so far as to perform and be photographed with a veil over his face. Yet, these are the very people who likely will tell you they’re inspired by Southern chopped and screwed hip hop and contemporary R&B, while churning out a stream of unsettling sonic textures and stuttering breaks reading more as industrial goth than formulaic pop melody.
Seizing on that sense of unease that popular culture might induce in someone more discerning, artists like oOoOO identify, dissect and expose it at the source. Pitching down a vocal sample and slowing an outrageous groove to a sickening pace in songs like lead single “NoWayBack”, he creates something that is simultaneously creepy and strangely stunning. Because, like the spooky moan invoked by the unutterable name, oOoOO is more preoccupied with creating the mystery of the ‘now’ in all its complex beauty.