Cairo Pythian is a one person recording (and occasionally performing) project from Olympia, WA. Its 12” EP Toytowne comes to listeners from the excellent Olympia-centric label Perennial Death. The label has a knack for putting out releases by somewhat obscure, but deeply talented artists. Cairo Pythian fits right at home in this company. A bit enigmatic, he describes his music as “adult contemporary,” and claims no affiliation with a local scene. Only occasionally performing, Cairo Pythian seldom even practices or writes outside the immediacy of the recording studio. What he crafts in that setting is dark, brooding, and hypnotic synth pop, calling to mind progenitors of the sound while at the same time crafting something fresh and unique. Side A of the starts with a few simple notes and builds up from there into a steady, but subdued beat which he sings over. The simplicity and repetitiveness of the beat gets it caught in the listener’s head, making them hang on every word of the vocals. There’s only a hint of silence as the first song fades before the driving beat of “Dark End,” kicks into life. The subdued beats of the track “Matthew Churchill,” follow. Side A concludes with “Colouring Book,” which has an echo-y, droning opening before mellowing into a series of synth riffs that build off one another. If a robot’s dreams were turned to music, I think they’d resemble the sound captured on this track. The opening track of Side B, “White Wicker,” is less synth-driven than the rest of the record. Featuring a spoken word intro, it is a guitar and drums track with a lot of reverb on the part of the guitars, and a pretty badass saxophone solo. Olympia is apparently all right if you like saxophones, and “White Wicker,” is a kicker of a song. The whole record seems to ebb and flow with intensity. “White Wicker,” gives way to the mellow “Puce Cross,” followed by the very danceable “Naked under Suede.” If there’s a track on this that I could imagine getting spun at the club, this is the track. Toytowne ends with “Laced,” another mellow track that winds the record down to its conclusion. The more I listened to this record, the more I kept wanting to listen to it, and it has occupied my turntable for a number of hours. While not something I’d normally be into, I found every track on this record infectious, and couldn’t get enough.
–Paul J. Comeau (Perennial)