Opaque industrial dread from the New York producer's debut LP.
Paranoia Star is uneasy from the outset. But as with her previous work, it's what Schulder does within this moody framework that makes things interesting. The opening track, "Guide For The Perplexed," captivates with the interplay between filter-sweeping saw waves and snatched fragments of Eastern strings, interspersed with static interference. At other times it's Schulder's restraint that grips. She sweeps a grungy monosynth from left to right through "Techelet" with only scuffed, imperceptible snatches of her voice for company. Even as the arrangement fills up with scrapes and shrieks, these new ingredients are held on a tight leash.
Schulder's voice is another source of intrigue. It's used sparingly, but when it appears it's buried in the mix, imbuing the music with a strange intimacy. She murmurs on "Sara" as though whispering her most private insecurities into a dictaphone. It's hard to hear anything specific, but the LP's theme of paranoia is especially strong here. That's also true of the music generally. There's the dark ambient of "Twisted Pair," which makes neat use of a minimal heartbeat rhythm to guide the ear through choral ambience. "Exile"'s noisy techno abstraction is one of the LP's most intense passages. Within the LP's all-encompassing darkness, though, are tracks with the depth, shade and character to make a lasting impression.