Of the innumerable electro-techno acts to arise from Detroit during the 1990s, Adult. may be the most unique, instantly recognizable for their starkly grim visuals as well as their anxiety-ridden music. Adult. (note the period) is comprised of married couple Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller, who began their recording career together as Plasma Co., a name by which only an obscure 12", "Modern Romantics," was released in 1998. Miller had been releasing music on his electro-techno label Ersatz Audio since 1995, beginning with his debut as Artificial Material. He also released music on Ersatz Audio as Le Car, a duo also including Ian Clark; confusingly, the two billed themselves in Le Car as Adam Equation and Ian Cinch-Jones. However, it wasn't until 1998 that Miller began releasing music produced in conjunction with Kuperus.
The two debuted their Adult. project in November 1998 with the Dispassionate Furniture EP. Another EP, Entertainment, followed a year later, while their song "Lost Love" appeared on the Ersatz Audio various-artists 12" Oral-Olio a few months earlier, in June 1999. Kuperus unveiled her talent for photography in 2000 on the limited-edition New Phonies EP, released by the Dutch label Clone; the foreboding images on each side of the 12" picture disc are typical of her trademark style, which would thereafter become a celebrated staple of Adult. releases. After another 12" EP, Nausea, and a compilation appearance on The Forgotten Sounds of Tomorrow ("Silent Property," "Human Wreck"), both in 2000, Ersatz Audio released the debut Adult. CD, Resuscitation, in 2001. Though most of the 14 songs on Resuscitation were culled from previous releases, primarily the 12" EPs, many were versions or mixes exclusive to the CD. By this point, Adult. had become widely known and were quite renowned within the techno underground. Plus, their live performances, including a memorable one at the inaugural Detroit Electronic Music Festival, helped them reach a growing audience.
Adult.'s first full-length of all-new material, Anxiety Always (2003), was preceded by a remix EP, Misinterpreted, and a 7" single, "Limited Edition," in 2002. Miller and Kuperus promoted Anxiety Always with tours of Europe and the U.S. throughout 2003 before withdrawing from the spotlight for much of 2004. Then, rather surprisingly, Adult. moved to the Chicago label Thrill Jockey, through which they released an EP, D.U.M.E. (2005), and full-length, Gimmie Trouble (2005), both of which featured guitarist Samuel Consiglio. The move to Thrill Jockey signaled the end of Ersatz Audio, which didn't so much close up shop as cease new-release operations. After touring in support of Gimmie Trouble with Consiglio in tow, Miller and Kuperus took some time off before returning in 2007 with another Thrill Jockey release, Why Bother? Adult. returned to their original husband-and-wife membership for the noisy album, and they commenced widespread touring almost immediately. After playing shows around the globe, the duo released the Let's Feel Bad Together EP in 2008, then took a lengthy break. During that time, the duo made a trilogy of horror films, The Three Grace(s) Triptych, renovated a historic commercial property in Detroit, and worked on other visual art projects. By 2012, Adult. was ready to record and play again, and issued the "Cover(s)" single via Ghostly late that year. The duo's fifth, and arguably most accessible, album, The Way Things Fall, appeared in May 2013.
Later that year, they released the "Work/Wreck" 12", the first Ersatz Audio release in five years. After receiving a John S. and James L. Knight Foundation grant in 2014, Adult. achieved a long-held dream of hosting artists in residency. The duo invited Nitzer Ebb's Douglas J. McCarthy, Swans' Michael Gira, and Light Asylum's Shannon Funchess, among others, to live and collaborate with them for several weeks. The results were Detroit House Guests, which Mute released in March 2017. ~ Jason Birchmeier
- Detroit, MI