I've been shocked by how good the music is in Halt and Catch Fire on AMC. Never mind that it's about ancient nerd stuff which I really appreciate; an underdog personal computer company starting out in the early '80s but the music supervisor Thomas Golubic is digging really deep into anything but the obvious for this time period. There's the touchstones I've never heard in mainstream pop culture like the Bad Brains or X-Ray Specs but the opening shot in one episode was a track "Are 'Friends' Electric?" from Gary Numan & The Tubeway Army which got me deep into a crazy rabbit hole lately. I'm following their picks pretty closely for more of this early synth era and post punk...the meeting of those two is my weak spot. So is the combination of influences on this single from Brisbane's Multiple Man, they keep things minimal with one foot in nostalgia and the other dark and forward looking. You're right - it sounds uncomfortable.
Synth blasts in on A-Side's "Body Double" turning this one dark like Ashrae Fax or Blessure Grave. Plowing away with weird digital percussions that can't bridge the uncanny valley of drums and become something else, this reverb snare, a buried electro tom. A perfect rough groove carved out of these analog elements, a chugging away of a robotic locomotive, buried under water and reverb, plate springs and coils. Not that this is of the lower fidelity variety, far from it, everything comes through loud and clear and they take their time getting this momentum up before the vocal comes in layered with plenty of echo sounding aggressive with a weird distance and agonized angst of something like Lust for Youth. This sort of thing is unsettling, there's no reason this should make you look over your shoulder when examining the pieces, but this rhythm and careful use of echo take this to a weird place of miscommunication. Everything is obscured and blown out, the rhythm is relentless it's coming for you, I think even Gary Numan was unwilling to get this dark, slanting more towards breaking those commercial rules and airwaves to go to these creepy depths.
B-Side "Surface Roads" is the apocalypse. You have to venture to the surface and make high art out of ascii characters and digital glitches. This track creeps up out of atmospheric digital fog swirling around into a heavy square sine wave bass line and a ring toned fax machine/modem sound is bent back into shape with autotune. But I doubt they're even using that kind of modern technology here. That melody evolves into a guitar riff of some kind with a synth punk like The Units which shouldn't make sense, they hated the guitar. There's a lot of density here while seeming minimal, precise and repetitive. No lyrics on this one while a Knight Rider two note inspired foundation manically twiddles away. Somehow sounding more optimistic but maybe because the A-Side was right after the war with the machines...and on the B-Side you find out they won.