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The Human Side of Synth

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Although the Presets are an electronic duo, the two members do more work than their machines. "Most techno stuff is cold," says Kimberley Moyes, one-half of the Australian electro-pop group. "We want to stay away from that."

On their debut album, Beams, Moyes and Julian Hamilton combine flashy synth bursts with peppy, poppy hooks. They both program and produce; Moyes drums while his partner sings. They sound a little like mid-'80s Duran Duran mixed with the more playful side of Daft Punk. "It's pop music," says Moyes. "We never really had a mission statement about what we wanted to do. We're just a couple of guys who like a lot of different kinds of shit, and we're trying to make some sense out of that."

Moyes' live drumming adds a human touch to all the synthetic sounds bouncing around Beams. Both musicians started off in a traditional rock band, "but we started messing with the computer, and it came out really good," says Moyes. "It wasn't the high art of the other band. It was way more fun. We wanted [the Presets] to have elements of both indie-rock and dance records."

Moyes dismisses any similarities between his band and the Chemical Brothers, Basement Jaxx, or any other programming pair of synth whizzes. "There's a more human connection to our music," he says. "We didn't want to be the production guys who bring other singers in." Besides, Moyes and Hamilton's flair for the theatrical puts them in a class all by themselves. In their spazzy videos and on their album cover, which features them sporting goofy masks, the Presets refuse to take themselves too seriously. "There's a lot of that bedroom-eyes, looking-cool stuff in music," says Moyes. "We wanted to put a kink in all that."
Sat., Sept. 9, 10 p.m.

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