Wisconsin-based artist Ryan Summers has been destroying the boundaries of electronic music with his multi-genre sound that has placed him under the spotlight. But what makes Summers stand out from other artists is his ability to construct music that explores some of the most complex ongoing issues. In his latest record Undo Influence, Summers dissects the social phenomenon of Internet cult and its effects on current political and cultural events. Summer, who was also part of an online cult a decade ago, uses his own past experiences to break down the theme through his music.
The opener “Chasm” starts off with a Spaghetti Western vibe before it smoothly morphs into an electronic soundscape that yields an eerie sense of suspense, making you feel like you’re about to watch a mystery film. Things get more hair-raising in the follow up “The Curious Story of Brad Halsey,” a dark eccentric piece stacked with syncopated rhythms. And while the track keeps you on your toes throughout, the cathartic punch is delivered in the final line, “A seed was planted in my head.” It leaves you with that uneasy feeling of knowing that you’re susceptible to brainwash no matter how rational you think you might be.
“Follow You” feels like the perfect song to describe Twitter culture as Summers builds that air of alertness through the cautiously stomping beats. “Proclaim you know the meaning / And leave no trace of doubt” he chants. In “Freezer Burn Sudahi,” Summers uses spiritual metaphors to depict the toxic hypnotism that cult-like figures exhibit to exploit people’s vulnerability. It has an apocalyptic feel to it where the breakneck guitar strings and dense synths amplify the intensity. “Holy Criminal” feels like you’re stepping into an underground party as Summers addresses how often our religious views don’t lead us to the expected reality.
In “Let Us Pray,” Summers settles into a motoric tune where he adds bursting moments to keep your adrenalines pumping. The follow up “Osiris Stone,” Summers invites us into a dark mystical ambience through the smoky choruses and spiritual imageries. “Sons of Gallows” takes off with piano keys for the first minute before dub-indebted melody kicks in. It’s an enigmatic piece that taps into voluntary blindness we fall into when we start worshipping an ideal that we many not fully understand but want to desperately be part of it.
The final piece “There is Nothing for Me Here” is a lyric-less soothing melody that feels like the end credits of a movie where Summers has delivered everything he needed to say and wants his listeners to take their time to digest everything. It’s hopeful and moody acknowledging the harsh realities of our Internet cult culture, but also holding onto the idea that people can disabuse from it.