Words: James Frostick
Naarm/Melbourne-based darkwave crew screensaver are today releasing the visual accompaniment for their new single ‘Strange Anxiety’. Set to a shadowy sonic backdrop rippled with slashes of incandescent beauty, screensaver convey feelings of emotional dissonance and a growing disconnect with our current form of isolated existence.
I’ve been pondering lately if all of this pandemic-incurred alone time will have a significant impact on how we perceive and interact with others. I’m not referring to our family and established set of friends. I’m talkin’ ’bout strangers – the assorted figures that inhabit our post-COVID milieu. Will we emerge more finely attuned to the wavelengths of others, or will our senses be dulled to the positive and/or sinister energies reverberating across our newly reopened clubs, band rooms, workplaces or public spaces? Being in Brisbane, I’ve been fortunate enough to have been able to dip my toe into conventional forms socialising, but the thought of returning to a pre-pandemic world of packed rooms and non-stop hustle fills me with a queasy sort of dread. But I can’t say isolation has been that great for many of us, either. We’re all in a strange headspace – one that’ll be hard to shake in the coming year. It’s the kind of feeling that saturates ‘Strange Anxiety’, the new single from gloomy synth-driven four-piece screensaver.
Comprised of current and former members of groups including Bad Vision, Spray Paint, Lowtide, Personal Touch and Rat Columns, the band emerged in 2019 with a four-track demo of atonal, motorised and paranoia-inducing darkwave that wouldn’t have been entirely out of place if featured on Nihilistic Orbs’ roster in the early 20-tens. On these early recordings screensaver flirted with elements of frenetic EBM and jagged post-punk, but for ‘Strange Anxiety’ they are smoothing the edges and dimming the lights a little bit further. Battling synth tones (the squelchy kind and the frosty kind) cascade over inorganic drum snaps, while a hyperactive affected guitar screech pierces in an out, threading a glinting needle through the song’s delicate and opaque sonic material. Krystal Maynard’s vocals shift from dispirited spoken word to breathy sigh, cryptically hinting at feelings of alienation, a growing sense of unfamiliarity with the human condition, the sensation of being out of control, and a heightened sense of stranger danger. This song, pieced together separately during isolation, is underpinned by a sense of mental isolation – the repercussions of which will undoubtedly manifest as we slowly transition into a post-lockdown world. Although shadowy in tone, the track isn’t entirely lightless – there’s an ethereal beauty that reveals itself in every iteration of the chorus, and there’s comfort to be found in the relatability of the words. Mental confusion and emotional dissonance might be commonplace, but it’s something that we’re all navigating together.
Have a look at the video for ‘Strange Anxiety’ (created by Juliet Miranda Rowe and screensaver’s bass player Giles Fielke) below: