I imagine, in the world of Stranger Things, the pop music of the Upside-down would sound something like hackedpicciotto on The Current. Alexander Hacke (Einsturzende Neubauten) and Danielle de Picciotto create haunting rhythm and drone tunes for an underworld hit parade. Tension builds between the constantly shifting percussion and the long, sustained tone that layer over and under the rhythms. A song like “Metal Hell” needs little else to take you into Wes Craven’s dreams. “The Current” glides along like a rusted iron glacier. The dense rhythm scours the low bass drone bedrock.
Voices, when they are present, can be downright disturbing. On “Defiance,” the phrase “all men are created equal” is repeated over and over, sounding like an absurd question. What is the thing called “equal?” What does it mean? On “Petty Silver,” the voice of a discarnate, ghostly child muses on moral philosophy and how good intentions are trumped by greed. “The Black Pool” has what sounds like an old English folk song being sung, while other voices drift in and out commenting on the messed up nature of the world. It’s all rather spooky and Gothic in the literary sense.
Just when you begin to think the hackedepiccioto exist solely in a bleak, nearly monochrome wasteland, they give us “The Seventh Day.” This is a moving meditation on becoming. Danielle and Alexander sing/chant aspirations mantras like, “I am a drop, let me become a river. I am a river, let me become an ocean.” Even in the Upside-down, there is a glimmer of hope.