For a number of years, Wigan’s Joe Oxley has been making a big name for himself under his Tvam moniker. Creating an intoxicating and heady mix of rave and shoegaze from the confines of his bedroom, there seemed little rush to release a debut album. However, at last, Psychic Data arrives, and it confirms Oxley as one of the most interesting artists around at the moment.
Produced by Dean Honer (of The Moonlandingz fame), the first reaction upon listening to Psychic Data is one of amazement that the music is still all that of one person, such is the depth and scale of the sounds on offer here. It’s easy to detect influences from artists from across a wide array of genres, but it has been digested and filtered into something special here, something hard to categorise genre-wise. There is a density to the sound and story of the opening title track, a never-ending quality that refers to the ‘infinite scroll’ of the modern world, where the population passively reads (but doesn’t quite digest) an endless feed of noise and news online. Oxley’s world is one where more information exists than could ever be processed, yet huge swathes of the population insist on ignoring it all.
His vocals sound like they are beamed in from another dimension, and that is probably not far from the truth. Fuzz-drenched synths drill through ‘Narcissus’ forming a futuristic, nightmare soundscape while the short ‘Ident #7’ unsettles. That’s not to say that Psychic Data is oppressive though, far from it. Much of it soars, sparkles and swoops like the best pop music. Yet, it is a form of pop that is just as likely to cast a chill over your heart. ‘Crc’ is like a glistening synthpop classic that has been covered by a thick layer of frost and ice, those glacial MBV-style fingerprints adding a wintery touch.
Moments like ‘These Are Not Your Memories’ lean into the other main theme of Psychic Data, that of nostalgia being formed around events that didn’t actually happen to you. As with all else on the record, it is an interesting concept that suits the atmosphere and ambience that Oxley has created. Beyond all that, it is the music itself that thrills. ‘Gas & Air’ is a killer track, like a huge bag of bangers firing off in all directions, but the best is saved for last. ‘Total Immersion’, built on a monstrous krautrock beat, rolls endlessly on towards an unknown horizon, completing the circle of infinity.
Oxley has nailed it here, Psychic Data excites, it stimulates, it provokes. It demands you examine everything, to unplug from all the inanity, the mediocrity, the nonsense, if only for a little while. If you do so, this will give you some of the best fun you’ll have all year.