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Makeup & Vanity Set Venture Into the Wilderness

The new album deals with “loss and grief and humanity in the face of technology” and will be accompanied by a short film directed by Joey Ciccoline.

Since discovering Matthew Pusti’s take on ’80s electronic sounds — think Vangelis by way of Tangerine Dream by way of John Carpenter — last year, his vintage/retro/nostalgic music as Makeup and Vanity Set has really struck a chord with me, hitting me squarely where my computer geek meets my sci-fi/videogame/anime nerd meets my child of the ’80s status.

Last year, he released one of my favorite albums as well as an ominous, haunting score for Anthony Scott Burns’ Manifold short. Oh, and his Charles Park trilogy was recently reissued. But beyond these releases, Pusti has been planning something big, something he’s been hinting at for months and has finally revealed: a double album titled Wilderness and an accompanying short film titled Eidolon. And suffice to say, these rank high among my most anticipated releases of 2014.

Makeup and Vanity Set’s music has always had an edge and drive that sets it apart from a lot of the ’80s-influenced electronic music out there. Those often seem like a kitschy exercise in nostalgia, which is fine for what it is, but Wilderness is coming from an especially personal place. As Pusti writes in his official album announcement:

A year and a half ago I watched someone very close to me die from cancer. While this was happening, I kept going over the last 48 months leading to that moment and I kept thinking about how the limitless feeling that technology gives us will never allow us to outsmart the technology of the human body. I thought about how my memories will endure with me but even they start to fade over time. No matter how hard we seek that, something infinite or eternal is always just beyond our grasp and even if we caught up to it, would we truly want it? Could something artificial replace something real to satisfy our natural need for realism? That is the crucible of this record and the part of the album’s concept that became the basis for Joey’s film.

As for the Eidolon short film, it’ll be directed by Joey Ciccoline, who previously directed the acclaimed 88:88 short film (for which Makeup and Vanity Set did the soundtrack). In this case, however, the roles are reversed. Eidolon will be inspired by Wilderness, or as Ciccoline puts it:

Matt has envisioned a whole world and characters, and through them an impressive collection of music exploring loss and grief and humanity in the face of technology and our own finite nature… Eidolon is my (along with writer Daniel Shepherd) attempt at taking the story of the concept behind Wilderness and bringing it to life beyond the music.

In order to fund the development of both the film and the record, Ciccoline has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $25,000 by April 11. More details, along with some footage and some of Makeup and Vanity Set’s music, can be found in the video below.

In addition, Makeup and Vanity Set has posted the first single from Wilderness online. Titled “Results, Revision,” it feels like an interlude of sorts, a teaser that leaves you wanting more (in the best possible way).

Finally, Makeup and Vanity Set’s 7.25.2148 — the aforementioned “favorite album” — is currently available on Bandcamp for name your price. You can get it for free, though I’d recommend you’d pay something to help support Pusti’s music and vision.

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