Embroiled in self-effacing darkness in contrast to Erica Dunham’s more aggressive sounds in companion project Unter Null, Stray was a beacon of authenticity in a world of filled with fear. Released almost five years ago, Letting Go was the post-orgasmic chill to Unter Null’s Moving On album and although more somber in tone, held a power that most would shy away from. While Stray may have been the little sister to Unter Null it cast its own shadow.
Letting Go with its laid back, trip-hop-like ambience was perhaps edgier than what the industrial scene was used to. Where the aggressive extroversion of powernoise was instead replaced with an introspective and more personal lyrical prose. While the angst driven leads were lost to deep and transcendental passages of synthetic pads. Dunham didn’t lose sight of the organic principles of setting a scene with Stray and her distorted vocals found ground level in unison with a piano through the miasma of sci-fi instrumentation.
The main album, because the release featured a three disc version with remixes and bonus tracks, was a coherent deluge of emotion. The sound production reflected a strained and struggling narrative that was of the highest artistic caliber. Wherein allowing interpretation within its boundaries suggested a pathway to understanding the hidden parts of the psyche. Letting Go offered (and still does offer) catharsis in situations where alienation is the default mode of operation and Ericas’ exploration of fearfulness opens an escape in a corridor during the process of collapse. Stray had like on the previous album given reprieve to the burden of emotional baggage.
With only two albums, Stray may be emotionally bankrupt now but hopefully, someday the honesty that Dunham presented will be considered a benchmark for what makes engaging music. As this album represents a potent force musically and lyrically for how provoking music can be. In a solemn way.
Tracks to check out: Remember Me. Out of place. All I Wanted.