On their sophomore album Spirit in the Room, Activity is haunted by technology, the loss of loved ones, capitalism, and humanity's relentless death march towards environmental destruction. Produced by Psychic TV's Jeff Berner, the album is an emotional seance held through an unearthly haze of menacing trip hop, ambient electronica, and synth-based noise rock. A sense of longing and hopelessness in the face of monumental loss comes through almost instantly on opening track "Department of Blood," in which lead vocalist Travis Johnson sardonically indicts both neoliberalism and "whatever the lord is," beneath a grim collage of processed electronics and a sinister drum machine beat. The David Berman-inspired "Heaven Chords, was written shortly after the iconic songwriter's death, and atmospheric track "Where the Art is Hung," is a haunting lament over the omnipresence of technology and surveillance in the modern world. Spirit in the Room is no lighthearted journey, but the band's playfulness and obvious natural chemistry keeps the collection from being burdened by its own solemnity. "Unlike the first album, where we'd barely played live before we recorded, we got to take some of the less electronic songs out on the road in the fall of 2021," Johnson explains. "Some tracks had been incubating for over a year in our rehearsals. We could feel them change and open up in a live setting, so when we got back home, we went back to the drawing board on a lot of them. Some got scrapped altogether and we haven't played them since. You get an idea in your head of what it is, but it's something else when you're trying to hold other people's attention. Every part needed to feel earned or necessary." On the one hand, Spirit in the Room is a harrowing journey through a Bosch-like landscape of illness, global capital, and human-caused destruction. On the other hand, it's a room full of friends who are simply trying to make it through the day and process this world we've created. When asked why this album needed to be made, Johnson put it best: "None of us can stand to not make music is all, really."
"Lynchian...hooky and memorable while still giving you the creeps. In a good way." BROOKLYN VEGAN // "This music strains at the leash, held tightly in check by the motorik rhythms, while gaseous synths seek to permeate all corners of the soundscape." DUSTED // “…a beautiful, detailed LP of wonder.” PASTE
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