For Animistic Beliefs, music is an occult matter. Their vintage drum machines and DIY modular synths are their objects of worship. Back in high school, Linh and Marvin united their faith in one belief system where every instrument is a character with a soul. They’ve been practicing their occult of live electro jams on analogue hardware across throbbing basements and warehouses of Rotterdam. Today, on the dark and sweaty floors, the Dutch duo commands crowds to obey the ancient ritual of dance. Their debut album Mindset:Reset came out on the German label Solar One Music in September this year. The newly released record is a pure manifestation of freedom that pays respect to their electro ancestors.
Linh Luu and Marvin Lalihatu inherited the night. Hidden in the shadows, veiled beneath dense clouds of smoke, and perforated by stroboscopic spasms, the pair command any space they inhabit. Fleeting flashes illuminate their beings to reveal what is otherwise masked by the anonymity of a sempiternal evening: a duo that harnesses the power of Animism to champion an electro dystopia. However, the sound that Linh and Marvin have pioneered over the past years surpasses their iconic precursors. Beyond the pair’s programmed basslines and punchy drums sprawls an elegy to the night, comprised of unobtrusive beats that bind with dulcet melodies to form Animistic Beliefs.
Under the basic beliefs of Animism, it is said that all creatures, places, and objects possess a soul and a spiritual essence. Linh and Marvin adopt that same theory when referencing their production setup. “The traditional pre-Christian belief system is an analogy for our instruments because every piece seems to be a character with a soul,” Marvin explains. The Rotterdam-based duo believe that within their harmonic Korg PolySix, lustrous Elektron Digitone, and definitive Roland SH-101 & 808 reside characters worthy of connection and collaboration. “We approach it in a very abstract way — a ghost in the machine vibe,” Marvin goes on to explain. The duo’s sonic exploration extends beyond the countless hours spent jamming in their decked-out studio: it was within the rave as punters and performers that they began to embrace the tenebrous patterns that unveiled what lies beneath the surface.
The way in which Linh and Marvin arrived at their name may lead you to believe that the pair follow a stringent plan in how they approach every aspect of music, but their first interaction was somewhat fortuitous. In the senior year of high school, the two took the same English and Economics classes, unbeknownst to each other that together they would release a number of records under the Animistic Beliefs guise, including a six-track tape release with sonic tastemaker Legowelt.
During a live performance is when Animistic Beliefs come to life. During their performance at Supynes festival in Lithuania last July, the pair stood centre-stage, bathed in red, commanding the ravers before them on lake-side stage. Pummeling kicks resounded through the woods, escaping from the dear machines they’d lugged all the way from their studio in Rotterdam. The two live to be on stage and revel in the challenge of improvisational performances.“To keep it interesting, the improvisation helps us surprise ourselves,” Linh explains. “We get surprised by the sounds that come out during a live show. You can guess what comes out but not exactly what it will be. You get inspired on the spot, also by each other and I like that part a lot. Wondering what sound will come next, what the other will come up with, and settling into the realisation that it won’t always sound the way they want it to — that’s where the real freedom is,” Linh says. “We learned to accept that the sounds won’t always be nice or what we want.” The way the two describe making music is always by fiddling, noodling, or wiggling around. It’s an approach that begins and ends with their ability to vibe off each other. Jamming together for many years has a built a chemistry perfect for improvised live performance. “We felt the flow the first time we ever performed together and we have known each other for a long time. From that moment on, together, we have grown as we evolve as artists and expand upon our craft even further.”