Last year DJ Rob Ehlinger brought a surprise hit to Houston when he convinced Claude Strilio to bring Anything Box of "Living in Oblivion" fame to Numbers for a performance. The show ended up as a packed, breathless success that can be held up as an example that Houston may be reclaiming its place as a world-renowned stop for synth acts.
Now, Anything Box is back at Numbers for round two, as well as a reunited T-4-2 and the Bayou City's own Provision.
Strilio formed Anything Box in 1986 in New Jersey. They released their most successful album, Peace (featuring "Oblivion"), in 1990. They've continued a steady stream of releases up to the present, with various changes in lineup and direction, and their work is often regarded as some of the most influential in the synth-pop community.
Strilio's latest endeavor is a project he calls Animore, an approach we're going to say is what would've happened if Hyperbubble had written American Idiot. It's a stark, desolate sound taking place in a wasteland called Neverville that nonetheless seems to hold out a promise of peace.
"Animore is a little project that I did to create an outlet for a change in my destiny," says Strilio. "I wanted, and still do, to move to South America. And the rest you will have to read about in my blog. The whole world knows now. As for Neverville, it is a very real place, although no one knows for sure what its real name is.
"Something happened there, though. It is almost devoid of all life. I was doing a bit of filming when I stumbled on to it. Now... it is a place I visit to get a perspective of what the world will look like when we've moved on from it. Scary place, really."
Joining Anything Box on stage is a recently reunited T-4-2. They formed in the Deep Ellum scene in Dallas at the end of the '80s, and toured with Anything Box and Information Society. Will Loconto and Jay Gillian helped pioneer preprogrammed backing tracks onto various tape machines, then performing with banks of keyboards in the fashion that became popular with artists like Howard Jones, ABC, the Thompson Twins and New Order.
"T42 and us...," Strilio begins. "We were both radio darlings at the same time, so there was much love between us, and we had the pleasure of playing with them before. Great band, amazing people. In the end, this is what it is really about... this life... people, how they affect you, how you affect them."