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  • Psychic 9-5 Club

Smart Bar boasts a ridiculously stacked sequence of bookings this week. Tomorrow night local footwork legend (and Teklife crew member) Gant-Man headlines, and on Saturday the mighty Detroit techno artist Carl Craig stops by for what promises to be a spectacular DJ set. But I’m slightly more intrigued by the live performance of Australian duo HTRK, who stop by the basement club on Thursday night.

The group was once a trio—singer Jonnine Standish, guitarist and programmer Nigel Yang, and bassist Sean Stewart—until Stewart committed suicide during the making of the band’s second album, Work (Work, Work) (Ghostly, 2011). Up to that point, the band was known for dark, industrialized postpunk in the same vein as Suicide or Cold Cave. But on last year’s Psychic 9-5 Club, also on Ghostly, the band softens the edges and brightens the sound palette, though not quite enough to qualify the music as sunny or upbeat. Instead, the latest iteration of HTRK sounds like a murkier Sade or an even more narcotized Massive Attack, though with none of the polish or slickness of either of those acts. Psychic 9-5 Club is closer to what I wish LP1, FKA Twigs‘s full-length debut, sounded like—an unhinged but not unfocused attempt at smooth nighttime R&B music. It’s some of the most alluring, dubbed-out, mystifying avant-pop music of recent years, and I’d be hard-pressed to guess what a live performance of this music might be like.

I’m not sure any of the songs on Psychic 9-5 Club could conceivably be called a “single,” and the whole thing should be listened to as an album, so I’m going with “Feels Like Love” for today’s 12 O’Clock Track, which gives a vague idea of what this album sounds like (and the vibe you can expect on Thursday night). Check it out below, and you can listen to the whole album for free on Soundcloud.