Versing Side-Project Spiral XP Pens An Ode to Stasis with “Atrophy” (KEXP Premiere)

Local Music, KEXP Premiere
Dusty Henry
photo by Jordan Mang

Anyone else feeling stuck lately? With vaccinations ramping up, there’s still so much to process with the past 15 months we all collectively spent shut-in. And that’s just the baseline, not taking into account the personal issues, anxieties, and life transitions happening on top of a global pandemic. Even if we weren’t living in these chaotic times, Spiral XP’s “Atrophy” would tap into this timeless, listless feeling.

Spiral XP is a new project from Max Keyes, drummer from the excellent Seattle indie rock project Versing. Keyes takes center stage in Spiral XP, but retains the volume and some of the disaffected, feverish stylings of his other band with added fuzz and shoegaze aesthetics. It’s a style he wears well on the project’s upcoming debut EP, Drop Me In, out June 18 on Canadian label Peaceful Tapes and produced by JooJoo Ashworth (Sasami, Froth). Drop Me In will also be Peaceful Tapes, a new label run by Courtney Garvin of The Courtneys and Gum Country.

“It’s about aimlessness, and being stuck in transition or lack thereof,” Keyes tells KEXP about the single. Keyes says he wrote the song moving cross-country from Philadelphia back to his hometown of Bellingham, Wash, a time he calls marred with uncertainty. To boot, the video was filmed in a glitchy VHS style, adding to the feeling of being lost and out of time.

The plodding guitar and Keyes’ hushed vocals aptly capture the feeling of malaise, opening with reflections of laying on the floor and “sinking into an unaltered state.” As the song escalates into a downpour of distortion in the chorus, mirroring the lyrics of “rainy days, we’ll see the ways we stay the same.” Even in the song’s wandering reflections, it still maintains itself as an invigorating listen, giving comfort to those feelings of purgatory.

Drop Me In is available for pre-order through Bandcamp or Peaceful Tapes’ website now.

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