As someone who was born on a small island, lived part of their life surrounded by water (on a houseboat) and now lives in an island city, I can appreciate the advantages and disadvantages that separation and isolation of water can give. The biggest pro is undoubtedly that the physical disconnects that such life provides with a greater sense of mental freedom and independence; for musicians this can mean increased creativity and less pressure to follow trends or fashions, allowing them to create something unique. Yet this also contributes the biggest downside; freedom can go unchecked, meaning that artists can sometimes go too far down the rabbit hole.
In terms of music the Isle of Wight certainly seems to provide that freedom with a number of unique, sometimes challenging artists emanating from across the Solent. The likes of Plastic Mermaids, Champs and Lauran Hibberd have spearheaded the Garden Isle scene, getting varying degrees of recognition well beyond the relatively small towns from which they come.
It was therefore not unsurprising to learn when Roberta Fidora aka Curxes returned with her second full-length album Gilded Cage last year that she had moved to the Isle of Wight. It was a record that was fearlessly experimental – a vivid collage of oddball ideas and warped sounds that sounded unshackled from the world at large. It was the sort of record that could really only ever be realised from living in a greater degree of solitude. It wasn’t going to be for everyone, but the more I listened the more interesting I found it and it ended up in my list of top 15 albums of the year (here).
Today Curxes release a new video from the record for the track The Stars, Like Dust. Whereas previous single In Your Neighbourhood displayed the poppier and more melodic side of Curxes, this track is its antithesis. Spooked-out synths, hazy vocals, beats that don’t seem to fit and then drop away altogether, this is definitely from the leftfield. But then with recent contributions to the likes of The Dark Outside, a site specific radio station in the middle of nowhere that nobody can hear (unless you happened to be on that particular hillside on the single day of broadcast with an FM radio), and live performances that have included a dancing bear, it’s clear that Roberta is not trying to satisfy anyone but herself.
Of the video Roberta says: “Introversion, distance and being burdened by nostalgia or surrounded by the past are the most prevalent themes throughout Gilded Cage and in the video for The Stars, Like Dust (directed by Rob Luckins), the only way to deal with them is by being lost in space memorabilia and good dogs.”
It’s a neat piece of work with one scene that vaguely reminds me a little of a TV moment from Aphex Twin’s Come to Daddy featuring some characters that you might recognise from the In Your Neighbourhood video and the Curxes album cover (which you can buy at Bandcamp by clicking here – I recommend the vinyl just for its orange colour and the bigger scarier cover).
The Stars, Like Dust is oddball spaced-out pop with a slightly disturbing feel. Not so much music to enjoy, but to experience; and sometimes that’s far more rewarding than something that Dua Lipa phoned in on her day off.
Curxes - The Stars, Like Dust (Video)