As one half of Oakland duo Tune-Yards, Nate Brenner is well-seasoned at making prismatic noise-pop with a conscience. But where his work with Merrill Garbus for the last near-decade has been more extroverted and outspoken, Brenner’s solo project, Naytronix, has largely existed behind a cool psych haze. That changes with upcoming album Air, on which Brenner’s sound emerges bolder than ever, with imaginative arrangements and lyrics reflecting on the inherent strangeness and contradictions of being human. Though it follows earlier release “Human,” new song “Come Back” is the album’s first official single, a playful collage of psych-pop textures with melancholy undertones—and a few unexpected turns.
Brenner explains his approach to the song: “I wanted to create a track that hovered between mellow and energetic, like the feeling of being up late at night, alone in a strange place, kind of anxious but calling on some good memories to keep me calm. Asking myself to come back to reality and stay grounded in the midst of the chaos.”
Pairing an effervescent rhythm (driven by a signature Brenner bass line) with soothing melodies and calls to “come back” to center, the Indiana native achieves that tension masterfully. And it’s all brought to life in a surreal video by artist Mad Conway, in which colorful glass shatters then reconstitutes in reverse or disappears into kaleidoscopic animations.
“Stop-motion is my first true love,” notes Conway, who first connected with Brenner via Instagram. “We broke up for a couple of years but this project helped me to return home. You can see the development throughout the video… weaving my love affair with glass-blowing into the animation. This project grew out of a blissful set of coincidences and it has jumpstarted my filmmaking process.”
Air follows previous Naytronix LPs Dirty Glow (2012) and Mr. Divine (2015) and most recently, Tune-Yards’ 2018 album, i can feel you creep into my private life, and score for Sorry To Bother You. The record, which features contributions by Garbus and fellow Oaklanders Hamir Atwal and Madeline Kenney, can be preordered via Bandcamp before its June 7 release, and if you’re in the Bay Area, you can catch Naytronix live on the following dates:
6/7—Oakland—Bandcamp Record Store (album release show with Salami Rose Joe Louis and DJ Momomamo)