Track Premiere: “Astray” by Medisin

Major Tulsa music producer explores loss and rudderlessness through electronic alt-pop songwriting on Wanderer lead single

Anyone who has listened to major recent Tulsa hip-hop albums like Fire in Little AfricaBorn on Black Wall Street, and 2045 has listened to the work of Medisin and probably not realized it. As one of the most in-demand audio engineers of the scene, his mixing and mastering have brought these projects to more vivid life. It’s always a treat, then, when he finds the time to put his energy and talent into his own original creations.

It’s been a few years since a Medisin project dropped. His landmark dreamhop-folktronica release 539 / 918 (which ranked #2 on Jarvix’s Top 20 EPs of 2018) was followed up in 2019 with a busy handful of smaller EPs, but since then, he has been relatively quiet.

That changes today with “Astray”, the new lead single (and opening track) from Wanderer, his forthcoming album releasing in March. Listen to it now in this Make Oklahoma Weirder track premiere.

Packed with synthwave bass, punchy drums, and funky hi-hat work, “Astray” features some of Medisin’s most thoughtfully layered vocals and effects to date. Despite its slick production and EDM/dance influences, though, this single is not the uplifting fluff these characteristics might suggest. It’s more like a hi-fi trip into the proverbial feels.

Set in spacey reverb of the cosmic soul, the song is about the struggle of being pushed away by someone and having to let go of them even though the one-way attachment remains strong. The title comes from a line about this person looking astray, taking away meaningful eye contact for the last time, but it also doubles as a condition for Medisin’s narrative, which is left in the cold by this dynamic.

These layers sink in on multiple listens, not unlike how the single’s artwork doesn’t reveal the text of its track and artist names immediately. The opening, for example, dwells in space industrial atmospherics for half a minute before the song begins to sprout and bloom from its barren landscape. It isn’t evident yet, but this foreshadows the album’s precarious themes of self-care, identity, and agency. This moment is echoed most prominently in a later transmission that recalls this song in a surprising homage to sci-fi arthouse cinema.

Medisin is a stellar storyteller of sound, so even when his tale is one of anxious directionlessness, music gives him a home base to decompress from the uncertainty of outer space. His music is never listless. “Astray” may be going through some things, but it tackles them with some of the biggest weapons in Medisin’s arsenal to transform a period of dejectedness into a euphoric expression of self-actualization.

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aka Jarvix, the Chief Executive Weirdo of Make Oklahoma Weirder. His out-of-the-box music coverage has been published by the Oklahoma Gazette, KOSU, and The Oklahoman among others. He also makes DIY music as a solo multi-instrumentalist live looper in his spare time.

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