Prior to winning his first APRA Silver Scroll with his brother Ruban for Unknown Mortal Orchestra‘s Multi-Love, Kody Nielson managed to record, mix and produce this solo album, under the moniker Silicon. The aptly titled ‘Personal Computer’ is Nielson’s plain-packed response to all the digital mass production in the world and how many factories pump out ‘perfect’ products that are in fact imperfect.
Musically the album reveals this concept as you listen. The title track begins with an electronic voice speaking followed by a synth heavy track with effective use of vocoder. While single Cellphone contains a 911 call (hinting at real life), the track still feels electronic and distant with the vocal track hidden by doubling it down the octave. The first half of this album is quite electronic, with varying synth and vocal textures, the songs tied together with a similar bass line in terms of both timbre and rhythm. Burning Sugar is a turning point, showing more ‘real’ instruments and the clearest vocal sound to this point. Love Peace (which may be considered the ballad) features brother Ruban on guitar and Kimbra-like vocal phrasing. Partner and Opossom bandmate, Bic Runga, provides bvs for Blow, and final track Dope includes the Nielsons’ father’s flugelhorn and soprano sax parts. This track also has the same electronic spoken voice as Personal Computer, recapitulating the concept of the album. A relevant concept has been developed in a highly effective way, making it not only acceptable in a pop frame but also in an art music context.