Synth-pop is a genre that’s been through a myriad of changes and waves.
From the sleek and serious demeanor of Depeche Mode to the goofier, dancy wonks of Chromeo, this sound has given way to many artists coming from unique perspectives and different places.
And one of those artists happens to be hitting DC9 on April 7.
Who Is Geographer?
Mike Deni is the touted-about “social scientist” behind indie synth project Geographer.
While having roots in the world of Central New Jersey, Deni long ago made the move to San Francisco and used that change to kickstart Geographer’s mark on the music world.
Now having graced the playbills of many music festivals and previously sharing the stage with greats like The Flaming Lips, Geographer is a regular headlining act in the midst of promoting their latest album “Down and Out In The Garden Of Earthly Delights.”
New Jersey + California
Something that caught my attention with Geographer is how Deni grew up a mere 30 minutes from my own borough in Central Jersey.
Initially using the topic of New Jersey as a means for laughs and pork roll politics, I quickly turned the topic around and asked what leaving New Jersey offered to this fellow creative.
“It was a great place to leave,” Deni says unbeknownst to the Mapplethorpe reference he made.
“New Jersey was simple and peaceful. But California was an expansion of everything. The mountains. The sky. I always sought to look outwards, not upwards.”
Though undoubtedly a launchpad for the likes of Deni and myself, Deni does still reflect a profound respect for New Jersey, going as far as naming his 2019 EP after the Garden State.
But with that said, even I understood what Deni said when it came to the mystical expanse of the West Coast.
“Down and Out”
2021’s “Down And Out” is no exception to the legacy of Geographer’s introspective releases.
Regarded by Deni as a tribute to the “struggles of existence both big and small,” this profound work touches upon ideas of free will and saying words we don’t really mean.
“I try not to be obtuse with my work. What’s here [in the album] is clear.”
And while clarity is a great virtue in this album, it’s worth noting that clarity comes with a deep and focused listen of this LP.
On my part at least, I found tracks like album opener “Slave To The Rhythm” to invoke a state of pondering followed by a mechanically dance-forward feel. It was akin to the sensation I get from Joy Division’s “Transmission.”
There was no lack of thought when it came to this album. On Deni’s part or even my own.
Geographer takes the stage at DC9 this Thursday. Aside from a relaxed optimism for his District showcase, Deni also mentioned a bright future for Geographer once he wraps up “Down and Out.”
“I’d like to settle my mind first before jumping into something new, but there are songwriters and producers I’m interested in working with.”
Deni then adds, “It’s great to take risks.”
Geographer plays DC9 at 8 p.m. on April 7. Get tickets here.