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Bay Area Experimentalist Cube's Latest Track Is a Harrowing Meditation on Safety

The staticky "Safe Word" comes in advance of his first vinyl release, 'My Cube,' due out June 24

by Colin Joyce
Jun 15 2016, 5:05pm

Photo by Suzy Poling

For a little over half a decade, Oakland experimenter Adam Keith has been issuing bruised electronics under the moniker Cube. He's issued tapes for experimental institutions like Digitalis and Human Conduct, but after years spent shaping his sickened blend of industrial, techno, and noise structures he's finally set to release his first vinyl LP, My Cube, on June 24 on Left Hand Path—the new label founded by Nihar Bhatt and Chris Zaldua of the San Francisco's Surface Tension collective.

Today, he's sharing the record's latest single "Safe Word," a tense collection of ebbing noise blasts and anxious vocalizations that showcase Keith's practiced approach to sending chills down your spine. Dead-eyed verses part way for pointillist static, while still maintaining the distended pulse of a horror movie score underneath—you'll not want to listen in the dark.

Over email, Keith explains that the title is "borrowed" from the BDSM community, but that he doesn't feel much affinity for the way that bondage imagery is usually appended to contemporary industrial music. "It often seems pretty arbitrary," He writes. Instead, Keith explains, the tense atmosphere is intended as a reflection on ephemeral nature of safety, stemming from some real life trauma.

"The lyrics are loosely based on a violent incident that I survived a few years ago along with two people I was very close to," He writes. "I'd rather not go into the details here. But the event took place in my home, in my room at the time. It seemed to be random, happened out of nowhere. Afterwards the room continued to haunt me in ways, but rather than avoid it and the feelings it stirred up, I stayed there. And as I continued living in the room, and processing and recording, I sort of obsessed over the idea of "safety" as a construct. Safety was a myth, and it was everywhere. It was an abstract ideal, a word, and it was being used to shut out and reduce unpleasant thoughts and sensations that were very present and real."

It's heavy stuff. Listen here in advance of My Cube's release next week.

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