It's rather apropos that the Slaves' haunting aria "You Could Save Me" is titled as such considering the song sounds like the soundtrack to a plight. Singer Barbara Kinzle's operatic voice soars over the collage of sounds from Birch Cooper's oodles of pedals, keyboards and white MacBook. Those samples and scattered electronics, along with the the reality that anything even remotely resembling opera is hard to come by in contemporary music—even on the experimental side— also sounds like a fragment of an era long gone.
Both Kinzle and Cooper's onstage presence seems to reflect their role within the music of the Slaves as well, especially in the case of "You Could Save Me" in particular. When I caught the pair at Holocene not too far back, I observed Cooper's physical swells of energy that often left his hair trailing in the air behind him similar to the echoing activity in this song. On his right was Kinzle, looking elegant with her well-styled modified bob, kept her composure behind her synthesizer and microphone.
However, haunting ethereal experimental music wasn't always the cornerstone of the Slaves' sound. While Kinzle and Cooper originally hail from the Portland area, the duo first began collaborating with each other in the Olympia, WA-based "noise-rock" group Robert. Two years ago they began making music as a twosome and from there have morphed into the Slaves over the past year. Keyword: Morph. As Kinzle puts it, "We were more ambient and drone-like before, but then got some ideas about doing some '50s pop with noise, and somehow we morphed into the Slaves." While it seems like the identity of the Slaves is very much based in the pair's present sound, who knows what's ahead. With that kind of leap between genres more experimentation seems all but guaranteed, though I doubt they'll abandon their current format to take say the barber-shop quartet route.
Photo care of the Slaves