ELYXR (Kurt Harland Larson of Information Society) – Strange Stubborn Proud

Classic synthpop dominates the latest ELYXR release

Seattle-based electronic musician/producer Kasson Crooker conceived ELYXR as a collaborative project, introducing different singers for each subsequent release. ‘Engine’ marked the first such outing and featured Elissa LeCoque (Kodacrome) on vocal duties (a track which also received its premiere here on The Electricity Club back in May 2017).

Subsequent singles included the kinetic energy of ‘Godspeed’, which featured the vocal talents of Naoko Takamoto (Princess Problems) and was conceived as a commentary of sorts on the-then forthcoming Trump presidency (a popular theme of late).

ELYXR switched up to a male vocal for ‘The Last Day of Summer’, a shimmering, sunny number that featured Brian Hazard (Color Theory). Meanwhile, ELYXR have also released a whole selection of other electronic gems. ‘Planes’ featured the return of Kodacrome’s Elissa LeCoque on a sultry synthwave outing. Elsewhere, ‘Crystalline’ employed some chiptune elements combined with the engaging vocal talents of Katrina Kope (Purr Gato).

The latest ELYXR release (which marks the 7th release so far) features the vocal talents of Kurt Harland Larson of ’80s synth-legends Information Society. A US-based synthpop outfit, Information Society previously scored a hit with their 1988 release ‘What’s on Your Mind (Pure Energy)’, a track that also featured vocal samples of Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) taken from the classic TV show Star Trek.

Combing the talents of Crooker and Larson, ‘Strange Stubborn Proud’ produces a seamless composition. The end result channels classic synthpop elements combined with a modern electronic production style to deliver a smooth synth outing.

ELYXR remains a fascinating musical endeavour by the ever-talented Kasson Crooker – and it looks like the future will offer up ever more intriguing collaborations.

‘Strange Stubborn Proud’ is out now on the Speed Of Dark label.


Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/elyxrband/strange-stubborn-proud-ft-kurt-harland-larson-of-information-society
BandCamp: https://elyxr.bandcamp.com/album/strange-stubborn-proud-ft-kurt-harland-larson-of-information-society
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/6kGGFx3SlPDro53zV31sna?si=iEXHy1i8Ryqf00ubcdpVtA
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/strange-stubborn-proud-feat-kurt-larson-information/1345638282

ELYXR – The Last Day of Summer

The collaborative outfit return with a taste of summer…

Earlier this year, Seattle-based electronic musician/producer Kasson Crooker conceived of a new project, titled ELYXR. The aim of the new musical venture was to collaborate with a variety of singers to produce a series of releases that would feature an intriguing combination of talents.

The first of these releases, ‘Engine’, which was premiered here on The Electricity Club back in May (see review here) engaged the talents of Elissa LeCoque from Brooklyn indie-electronic act Kodacrome. The result was a subtle, layered electronic pop outing that, combined with LeCoque’s soulful vocals, lent the whole composition a certain sadness.

Equally, ‘Godspeed’ (featuring Naoko Takamoto of Princess Problems) which marked the second ELYXR release had an unsettling raw energy to a timely musing on America’s troubled political climate.

The Last Day of Summer (ft Color Theory) by ELYXR

A founder-member of legendary synthpop outfit Freezepop, as well as creating Symbion Project (whose Gishiki album lent a more reflective element to the electronic musician’s musical palette), Crooker has just released the 6th ELYXR single titled ‘The Last Day Of Summer’. While previous releases have focussed on female vocalists, for this latest outing Crooker has opted to work with Brian Hazard of Color Theory.

Hazard is no stranger to the world of synthpop. Color Theory has been active for many years, with some intriguing outings peppering the California-based musician’s career. This includes a jazzy cover version of OMD’s ‘Hold You’ for an album of covers dedicated to the iconic Wirral band. Hazard also conceived of Color Theory presents Depeche Mode, a modern take on the classic electronic outfit.

Yet Color Theory continues to output great music in its own right. Check out the synth goodness of recent release ’The Ghost In You’ by way of example – an engaging synthpop cover of a Psychedelic Furs song.

“When Kasson asked me about collaborating, my first thought was, ‘Why haven’t we done this already?’” comments Hazard. “He gave me a wonderful idea for the lyric, which I elaborated on and free associated from until it told its own story, a distant cousin to the one it came from.”

‘The Last Day of Summer’ offers a shimmering, sunny number that brings some brightness to the winter period. At the same time, the lyrics revolve around the revival of memories and the immutable passage of time. ‘The Last Day of Summer’ also has a poignant feel, being dedicated to the memory of Bryan Rudell of synth outfit Duck Duck Punch, who tragically passed away earlier this year.

Prior to this release, ELYXR have also released a whole selection of electronic gems. ‘Planes’ featured the return of Kodacrome’s Elissa LeCoque on a sultry synthwave outing. Meanwhile, ‘Crystalline’ employs some chiptune elements combined with the engaging vocal talents of Katrina Kope (Purr Gato).

ELYXR remains a fascinating musical endeavour by the ever-talented Kasson Crooker and suggests that more intriguing collaborations may well be lined up as 2018 approaches.

‘The Last Day of Summer ‘ is out now on the Speed Of Dark label.





Engaging electronica with a Japanese twist…

The ambient side of electronic music can throw up some intriguing gems that often present rewards from patient listening. Symbion Project’s Gishiki is a case in point with its combination of traditional Japanese music themes and contemporary synthesiser compositions.

Gishiki offers contemplative moods pulled from a series of captivating soundscapes, each of which has been inspired by the virtues of Bushido. A codified system of values adopted by Japan’s samurai caste, Bushido (the way of the warrior), revolved around themes including loyalty, duty and self-sacrifice. Each of the 8 pieces here are equally named after those virtues and attempt to capture the essence of their meaning in music.

Symbion Project is actually the work of Seattle-based musician and composer Kasson Crooker. Keeping himself busy as part of a series of bands over the years (including the likes of Splashdown and Larkspur), Crooker is probably better known under his guise as ‘The Duke’, founder-member of synthpop superstars Freezepop. But Symbion Project offers Crooker a chance to delve into the more electronica side of the musical spectrum.

In fact Gishiki forms the final album in a loose trilogy of work comprising 2007 release Wound Up by God or the Devil and Contrapasso in 2011. Gishiki’s approach was crafted from an exploration of the pentatonic Hirajōshi scale. Crooker created the plucked koto sound via a physical-modeling synthesiser, combined with treated sounds of windchimes and angklung (a traditional Malaysian percussive instrument). Combined with warm analogue synth washes, Gishiki offers up an immersive experience that works its magic in subtle ways.

There’s a loose arc to the composition of the album that fixes the initial focus on a more traditional Japanese sound, before weaving in more electronic elements into later pieces. As a result, opening track ‘Jin (Benevolence)’ has a gentle, reflective tone. ‘Makoto (Integrity)’, meanwhile, has a warmer, hypnotic quality to it.

For those that have a preference for Brian Eno’s ambient catalogue, they’ll find some familiar ground here. There’s a similar use of mood and tone that creates a certain atmosphere without necessarily commanding your complete attention. At the same time, the 8 pieces offer up a variety of approaches that make each of them distinct in their own way without losing the focus as a collective work.


Take the panoramic soundscape of ‘Chugi (Loyality)’, which at times suggests some lost cinematic soundtrack. It’s gradual build-up of synth beds gives a grander vision, while still retaining the ability to project a contemplative mood.

There’s a much more traditional electronic arrangement at work on ‘Jisei (Self-Control)’ with its buzzy synths and tonal shifts. Elsewhere, ‘Gi (Righteousness)’ clocks in with the album’s longest composition at nearly 10 minutes. It’s a track that makes effective use of space, while also weaving in some of the panoramic style that ‘Chugi’ introduced.

Closing proceedings, the gossamer tones of ‘Yu (Courage)’ makes use of synth arpeggios to give the piece a robust foundation. Meanwhile, warmer tones are gradually introduced into the arrangement to present a textured whole.

At this point, it’s probably also worth mentioning that as well as digital download, Gishiki is also available as a special limited edition CD release. Each edition is numbered and autographed and features 3 CDs hand-wrapped in a package using the traditional Japanese Furoshiki method. The cloth is created by artist Fiona Stoltze, dyed using the ancient Japanese Shibori method. Included with the Gishiki CD are the previous albums in the trilogy, Wound Up by God or the Devil and Contrapasso. Also included are prints of 8 original Haiku composed by Natalia L. Rudychev inspired by the songs of Gishiki and the virtues of Bushido.

Gishiki is an album that’s likely to resonate with anyone who’s a fan of the works of Eno, Isao Tomita and Ryuichi Sakamoto. At times, there’s even hints of early Jean-Michel Jarre in the mix. As a contemplative piece of work, Symbion Project have crafted an effective album with Gishiki that’s one of the standout electronica releases of the year.

Gishiki is out now on Speed of Dark Music.