Usually when an artist enters the WXPN studio, we have a general sense what it’s going to look like. A line of microphones, a mix of instruments and amplifiers, warm-toned spots shining down from the lighting rig or up from the floor. That’s not what the experimental Philadelphia trio ABBATIA had in mind. Using our performance space as a blank canvas, the band transformed the room with deep red lights, a projector loaded with frenetic and macabre imagery, and a huge screen as a backdrop, opening a stunning portal to their world for this thrilling Key Studio Session.
ABBATIA hit our radar this winter when they played an all-Philly bill at the Ukie Club with punk outfit The Dregs and hard-hitting rapper Ghais Guevara. Their versatile sound acted as a bridge between the other two artists, calling to mind boundary-blurring performers like Death Grips and JPEGMAFIA — or, going further back, Nine Inch Nails and Dälek. Though the band’s set at that show drew strongly on their debut EP Red Room (released last fall on A2B2, the label run by Death Grips’ Andy Morin), the trio’s history runs much deeper, and their next chapter is already imminent.
Bandmates Syd Solanke, Jazz Vicaris, andDroogie are life-long friends who grew up together in the city’s Roxborough section and have been creating music and art together since childhood. With a bond solidified over weird cinema, immersive video games, and imagined worlds animated on their laptops, their creative vision has coalesced into a multimedia frenzy that’s sometimes nihilistic, often chaotic, but always in service of raising the energy in whatever space they occupy, reacting to a relentlessly bleak world with noise and movement.
In this set, ABBATIA plays three highlights from Red Room — the industrial party-rocker “System Failure,” which they released a truly wild music video for on Halloween, the explosive rager “World Wide Web,” and the closing death march of “Dreadnaught” — but also gives us a generous helping of new material to preview their next chapter, which will be released sometime in the not-too-distant future. The new songs range from vibey electronic tones and lovelorn lyrics (“AMs”) to moments of chilling cacophony and catharsis (“Exhume”), and we can’t wait to hear what comes next.
Lose yourself in ABBATIA’s entire Key Studio Sessions performance below, and for more, give them a follow on Instagram.