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HDLSS and Heems Call Out Your Apathy on "Bystander 2"

The New York duo's debut album drops tomorrow.

NYC cerebral glitch pop duo HDLSS returns today with a new single, just in time for the release of their album, Selections from DUMB, this Friday. The project has been garnering attention lately with their complex electronic orchestrations, suspending incisive politically- and culturally-charged lyrics in rich, consuming soundscapes. The track, "Bystander 2," follows suit, evoking dark, atmospheric tones that underscore its central themes of social strife and apathy. The duo enlists pal Heems to drive it home with a guest verse, doling out a narrative as stark as the rest of the song: "We wasn't born dumb / We was dumbed down / Gentrify us, kick us from the city to a bum town."


Like earlier singles "False Flag" and "Colonizer," "Bystander 2" takes a hard look at the disconnectedness of the internet age, wrapping it in bleak but infectious melodies, ghostly vocals, and a dark, slow beat. The song rises until it hits Heem's hard-hitting verse: "I've known Far, and then Wolfy, for some time and their music keeps getting better," Heems tells Noisey. "There's a lot more to their brand of Phillip Glass Glitch Pop when you scratch below the surface, and the lyrics are about our political environment or cultural appropriation in music. 'Bystander Effect' is a song that falls into the former category, so I spoke on apathy and armchair activism to mirror Far's lyrics."

"Bystander 2" is a re-worked version or "mutation" of DUMB track "Bystander Effect," doubling as a sort of meta look at what it means to remix or repurpose sound amidst the current cultural landscape. Here's what Far had to say about the concept behind it:

"In order to create you must first destroy. Something can only exist in the absence of nothing. We like to rework our pieces endlessly by destroying them. One song can turn into a hundred if you mutate it enough…I bet if we tried collectively we could make an entire genre out of nothing but mutations of 'Like A Virgin' or 'Purple Rain.' Can people please stop putting shitty beats over songs and calling them 'remixes?' Sampling was never intended to be stealing. It's repurposing sounds to create something that has never existed before. How can that be illegal? So we just do it to our own music since we're told we're not allowed to do it to other people's. The law always lags behind. Oh well. Inspiration for this idea partly comes from the aesthetic of remixed songs existing within an original song itself. Perhaps Dntel is a good reference point, Oneohtrix Point Never, Arca, Haxan Cloak, even NIN/NIN remixes… This one has a deep dark narcotic pace sluggish sound, kinda otherworldly since these sounds were created in Other worlds."

Listen to the premiere of "Bystander 2" below, and look out for the project's debut album DUMB, out on August 4th.

Pre-order Selections from DUMB on Bandcamp and check them out on Soundcloud.

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