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Null Device, Justin Carver, DJ Ellafine


  • Connections 3737 East Washington Avenue Madison, WI, 53704 United States (map)
Photo by Eric Tadsen.

Photo by Eric Tadsen.

Madison band Null Device rarely strays in its devotion to heady, romantic electronic pop. But while sticking to that lane, they've explored a great deal of nuanced sonic character and done a lot of excellent songwriting. Somehow, it's always the singing that really seems to pin it all together—Eric Oehler and Jill Sheridan sing their lead parts with unpretentious clarity. Their vocal performances aren't by any means cold or emotionless, but they never try to compete too much with the band's layered production, which over time has included everything from Indian percussion to Kendra Kreutz's electric cello, and a dense array of beatmaking styles and synth patches that you'd only get from a group of serious electronic-music heads. The project's been going in one form or another for more than 20 years, and their 2016 release While You Were Otherwise Engaged is among their best. Tracks like "Faraway," "Maker," and "3AM" have the emotional and lyrical heft to make their polished and intricate arrangements connect on a human level, but just soaking up the electro-pop grandiosity is satisfying too. Null Device's plans this year include recording a new track for a cancer-benefit compilation, and Oehler recently started up a new project called Klack, with fellow Madison-based electronic artist Matt Fanale of Caustic. —Scott Gordon