Optic Sink’s Natalie Hoffmann (NOTS) creates a musical paradox: an endeavor that doesn’t seem to belong to any particular time or place. She constructs with sounds that are synthesized and stripped down, yet bristling with urgency and brutalist emotion. With percussionist Ben Bauermeister (Magic Kids, Toxie, A55 Conducta) by her side, the two set up camp on the post-punk side of the minimal electronic scene.
Their debut, S/T album comes out October 2 on Goner following its lead single and video “Personified”. The track features a Trumptopian critique delivered over instrumentation that sounds like a new wave chase theme. “Personified is a chaotic reflection on the far-reaching shadows of the dystopia we're living in. The contrasting textures in the song underline the tension between human and machine, and where that line is blurred,” Hoffmann describes.
Optic Sink eschew computers for a warmer, decidedly human soundscape. Hoffmann’s power and the tension she generates between human and machine, evokes Maria -- the rebellious teacher - turned - Maschinenmensch in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, and Ripley, the swaggering, sacrificing heroine of Ridley Scott’s Alien franchise. Dadaism and the Bauhaus movement could both be cited as influences; so might the existentialist philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir and the jump-cuts of Maya Deren.
These are eight fully defined, atmospheric collages crafted with plenty of room for Hoffmann to play and test an artillery of sounds. “It’s about the evasive search for comfort: the human need to have freedom from pain, and for ease in a fixed system made to exploit,” Hoffmann says of the album, which she partially wrote during an extended musical residency at the Memphis creative complex Crosstown Arts.
"I lost two people who were inexpressibly important to me in 2018 and 2019, and it completely derailed me from working on music at all for a while. After I was able to focus on music again, the solitary and meditative endeavor of writing songs for Optic Sink became a form of therapy for me and a way of working through the grief and shock of these losses. So as much as this record is informed by the repercussions of our current political climate, it's also shaped by a looming sense of loss."
Optic Sink defy categories, shape-shifting from cold wave to psychedelia to distorted noise rock. In the process—which frequently occurs in a single song—they claim unchartered territory as they cathartically fragment and reassemble sounds, concepts, and verbal constructs. The conflict they define is life in America in 2020, finding beauty in the journey despite what the final resolution might be.