STORY WRITTEN BY CHRISTOPHER WEBER
Adult., “Detroit House Guests” (Mute Records)
Adult. — the husband-and-wife team of Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller — have gained a level of reverence among the notoriously fickle fans within the broad spectrum of electronic music. Their bleak, spare style honed over two decades might be summed up by the titles of two previous releases: “Anxiety Always” and “Let’s Feel Bad Together.” It’s music to dance to while having a nervous breakdown. The duo plays in Philadelphia on Wednesday, May 10 at Johnny Brenda’s.
After receiving a Knight Foundation grant in 2014, Adult. (yes the period belongs there) decided to get out of their comfort zone as a duo and invite some friends for an extended stay at their Michigan headquarters. The result is “Detroit House Guests,” a vigorously unsettling collaborative album that plays to their strengths while meeting new challenges presented by the varied guests — a who’s who of experimental artists.
On the hypnotic “We Are a Mirror,” Douglas McCarthy of British electro veterans Nitzer Ebb trades mantra-like verses with Kuperus as the song builds to a kaleidoscope of pulsating beats and effects. “We Chase the Sound,” with Shannon Funchess of Brooklyn duo Light Asylum, maintains a typically detached attitude about the songwriting process — “What is this nonsense?” they sneer — while laying down frenzied and thoroughly danceable rhythms. Even the calmer numbers, like “Breathe On” and “As You Dream” featuring Swans’ Michael Gira, are suffused with a volatility and uneasiness that are Adult. signatures.
These house guests might not be the most festive bunch, but it’s the right crowd for those seeking a soundtrack to a dark mood.