by Tom Alexander (@___alexd)
Operator Music Band are the ghosts in the machine. Their music may be highly reliant on synthesizers, but those processed sounds come from a library of analog Moogs and Korgs. What appears on first glance to be digital belies a very human presence*. Together, Dara Hirsch and Jared Hiller as a collaborative force may sound automated, but it’s an illusion. A comparison to Kraftwerk may be overly simplified, but it conveys the general idea. Today, OMB shares “Squaresoft,” their first single since 2017’s Coördination. The song is also the first release for OMB on the Brooklyn-based Broken Circles Records.
“Squaresoft” may be the most immediately catchy song that Operator Music Band has ever made. The initial bass line, with its up-down-up-down rhythm was made to get you moving – it’s nearly impossible to hear it and remain still in an office chair. Go on and try it (I know you’re reading this at work), listen to it while you read the rest of the premiere. Observe the way your head bops up and down, or the way your shoulders shimmy from side to side. Immobility is not an option.
The b-side to the single, “Cowboys” might not sound familiar at first, with its ascending synthesizers and drums’ skittering backbeat. But as soon as Dara Hirsch’s vocals kick in, it becomes clear that OMB is reinterpreting the Portishead classic. Covering “Cowboys” is a daring move given Portishead’s unimpeachable status in music, but OMB’s rendition is a translation, not a replication. Where the original’s reverb-laden guitar gave it a pound of menace, OMB’s version is wonderfully mysterious.
While this is the first official release from Operator Music Band in 2019, the band have hinted at more to come
*It’s like that episode of The Twilight Zone where the robot fighting in the android-only boxing match actually has a human inside of it.