Telekom Electronic Beats

Beyond Beats Vol.1

Beyond Beats Vol.1 When starting to think about this new column about music that usually doesn’t have a place on Electronic Beats – however you might delineate that – I figured it might be best to start with a band whose chamber pop gorgeousness has haunted the blogosphere for a good while now: Long Island, New York’s amiable quintet Twin Sister. But now I see myself confronted with the fact that not only there is an apt and exhaustive review of the group’s brand new proper debut “In Heaven” on EB already, moreover it once again turns out that the blog age can be a tricky business, in particular if you’re willing to base your expectations on the first buzz. Whatever one may say about the album, and all in all I’d agree with Moritz’ judgment that it’s a good one, I can’t help but acknowledge that it’s been a long way from the heart-melting muffled intimacy of “Lady Daydream” back in early 2010 to the glossy orchestral overambition of an album track like “Spain”. But maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, to satisfy my insatiable need for the dreamy side of pop right now I’d rather turn to another New York group, Bronx-based Pigeons, recently expanded to a four-piece but built around the husband/wife duo of Wednesday Knudsen and Clark Griffin. Despite having put out two excellent full-lengths in 2010 alone, “Si Faustine” (Olde English Spelling Bee) and “Liasons” (Soft Abuse), their music has not yet received the amount of attention I’d consider appropriate. Not sure if this will change with their forthcoming album on Soft Abuse, but in any case “They Sweetheartstammers” promises to become another exquisite instance of mellow, psychedelia-informed pop noir, outstanding due to Knudsen’s absorbing voice and careless, detached guitar play alone.

Also leaning toward rather darkish realms but considerably more leering at the dernier cri of all things hypeworthy is Austin’s Sleep ? Over, originally an all-female trio but now shriveled to Stefanie Franciotti’s solo endeavor. After a few wonderful singles she recently dropped her debut “Forever” via everyone’s favorite hipster label Hippos In Tanks, and it’s an ambivalent affair: Alongside very fine pop songs that we’ve come to admire, most remarkably the early 7” “Casual Diamond” but also the gorgeous, haunting album closer “Don’t Poison Everything”, that showcase Franciotti’s immense talent for opaque melodies and adorable hooks, almost half of the tracks are instrumentals, mere ambient pieces that somehow feel squeezed in between as if she had run out of ideas for actual songs but desperately needed to finish the album. Franciotti’s got a side project for her murky psych aspirations, Raga Chrome, with a recent cassette release on Bathetic, and maybe it would have been better to keep both ventures apart.

If you’re actually headed in the ambient direction there’s a lot of noteworthy stuff that’s been released as of late, but above all I’d recommend the brilliant 12” by Oberlin alumni Jessa Farkas and Camilla Padgitt-Coles aka Future Shuttle, now based out of Brooklyn. “Water’s Edge”, put out via Holy Mountain, contains six pieces of splendid contemplation, deliberately spaced-out and densely arranged layers of synth-based drone and the girls’ heavily reverberated vocalization. A superb effort all along.

Equally built around staggering drone patterns yet taking the turn back to pop is the latest full-length by Lee Noble, who refreshingly records under his own name, no need for mysteries here. The LA native has already dropped a string of cassettes on various labels, but “Horrorism”, due October 4 via Bathetic, marks his debut on hard wax. The ten-track LP is truly outstanding, one of the finest albums in its genre this year, whatever that might be anyway, as I’ve seldom encountered someone who’s so bluntly and flawlessly blended such righteous drone/ambient experimentalism with sublime songwriting craftsmanship. Someone has deemed Noble “the male counterpart to early Grouper”, and actually that sounds about right. Strongly recommended.

Ultimately I’d like to briefly shed some light on the recently founded British imprint Public Information and the label’s first release, “Solitary Pursuits” by ADR aka Aaron David Ross, otherwise known as one half of Brooklyn-based heavy-hitters Gatekeeper. Drawing on the esteemed English tradition of library music, “Solitary Pursuits” is an eight-track mini LP of retro-futuristic analogue synth suites, just about perfect for all your dirty 80s-related fantasies. The whole thing is up for streaming here.

Published September 29, 2011.