Phantom Machines are Armen Najarian and Haig Shirinian–a self-described indie electro unit from Los Angeles. The pair met during a chance encounter when Shirinian, out supporting a friends’ band, saw Najarian preforming at a local LA venue. Shirinian was so impressed with Najarian’s his skills as a vocalist, he knew they had to work together. Shortly thereafter, the two became Phantom Machines and began working from the material Shirinian had previously put together.
Their debut, self-titled EP, released on May 4th, is short and sweet, coming in at a total of four tracks. Listening, I reminded of a dark, hot, sweaty dance club, with lots of lights and no inhibitions (not that there is anything wrong with that). However, this is just the kind of space I have spent a lot of time trying to avoid. Despite my aversion to the genre, Najarian’s vocals rise above, at times arbitrary categorizations, and is the stand alone highlight of the EP for me. While these four tracks showcase his abilities, they stand as somewhat of a tease what he might sound like when unadulterated by electronic interventions.
Melding a key heavy intro with Najarian’s almost wispy voice, the opening track “Always” features the soft, yet passionate style that is carried throughout the rest of the album. The track builds into a chorus that is brought home by Najarian’s far out wailing which repeats the promise: “And I will always find you.” The second track, “Around With You” is a bit more upbeat, and more playful than its emotionally charger predecessor. “Go,” the only track with a paired video, is more in the style of “Always,” and showcases a rare acoustic guitar appearance. It also features a repetitive chorus which, in its repetition, comprises the bulk of the track.
The final track, “Just This Love,” for some reason reminds me of Enrique Iglesias – a man I had completely forgotten about and then was briefly reminded of when I recently watched a HBO documentary on the rise of Latino/a music in the US. Suffice to say that, while this EP is not for me, it has obviously been put together by two musicians who care deeply about their work. When falling on slightly more sympathetic ears, and within the right spaces, I’m sure that Phantom Machines will be well received.
Written by Jordan Hodgins
*edited by Danielle Kenedy