Chicago’s analog synth melting psych-pop artist Oscillator Bug is like a force of nature in the age of climate change: unpredictable. Borrowing from the revolution-minded mass hallucinations of 60s psych as well as weirdo bedroom pop and several decades worth of avant-garde synth experimentalism, Oscillator Bug is a wild, infectious and occasionally disturbing rendering of 21st Century popular music.
Oscillator Bug’s Zaid Maxwell has been making music in the Windy City for several years, playing in and recording various bands. While currently playing in a couple of more explorative and caustic outfits, Maxwell was compelled to extract these 10 auditory earwigs of pop goo that had taken roost in his brain. The resulting Bursts of the Million is tunefully fun and twisted Candyland passage through someone else’s fever dream that pulls listeners ever-inward.
Album opener “Enavasion” kicks things off with one of the more jagged tunes, reminiscent of Ween’s finest post-funk colliding with early Devo and driven by Maxwell’s jaw-dropping falsetto vocal acrobatics. The title track pits a delicate lullaby vocal melody over a Suicide-style organ rhythm loop. Elsewhere, the hook-laden “Feel Rif” sounds like a frenzied march of warbling synth creatures and guitars that Maxwell tries desperately to keep under control, like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, singing in alternating falsetto and baritone as a shimmering melody leads into a cathartic eruption of electro-euphoria reminiscent of Of Montreal’s glammy artrock. Other tracks like “Glimmy Gloe” and “Don’t Go To Sleep“ further emphasize the album’s primal, hallucinatory glory. At times it’s like “Raspberry Beret” era Prince gone lo-fi, other times a Tangerine Dream nightmare, and elsewhere a godhead rendering of Future Islands in the sky with John Lennon. Point being: buy the ticket, and take this ride.