Even among the sea of spindly interlocking guitars and complex drum rhythms, the voice of Salt Cathedral vocalist Juliana Ronderos has always served as it’s primary focal point; everything built around it. So it’s exceptionally fitting that as Salt Cathedral continue to refine and evolve their sound that Ronderos vocals continue to guide them forwards.
“Good Winds” takes the stuttering, rhythmic focus that makes up the core of Salt Cathedral’s characteristic sound and more or less does away with it completely. “Good Winds” shines an even stronger light on Ronderos’ vocals while toning down their tropicalia-infused experimentalism in favor of unfettered emotion. Salt Cathedral update the standard slow jam by allowing it to accumulate additional layers and interesting musical moments just moments after eschewing them. Coupled with the radical inclusion of synths, “Good Winds” manages to bridge a marked different compositional approach – highlighting exactly what Salt Cathedral have to offer even as they slip into a more Brooklyn-esque level of accessibility.
It’s more than mere coincidence that brought me to Kingston based experimentalist Shana Falana. The duo featuring the eponymous frontwoman on vocals and guitar recently performed not only with Brooklyn’s Widowspeak but also the previously spotlighted Albany band Hand Habits.
Considering the amount of layering required to create the psych pop that Shana Falana strives for, it’s a bit shocking to discover it’s mostly the work of Falana herself (with drums provided by Michael Amari), but with the mastery of a loop pedal and good old fashioned recording materials anything is possible. Her latest track, “Gone”, released in support of an upcoming anthology release of sorts, is a hold over from Falana’s former Brooklyn based duo Skirt and features less angular jags and more svelte, gliding vocal lines and a misty dream pop haze. That and some pretty intense drumming that keeps everything firmly on rightful, less aimless path.
“Gone” is one of the many tracks featured on Shana Falana Sings Herself to Sleep, an exclusive collection of demos, field recordings, and audio diaries available only through her Indiegogo campaign. If that sort of things your bag, you might want to contribute for a copy here. If not, Shana Falana has more music available the old fashioned way via her Bandcamp.
It’s been two years since Gainesville’s Hundred Waters released their eponymous first LP, my favorite of 2012 and one of the best debuts I’ve heard in years. Since signing with the Skrillex-affiliated OWSLA label and releasing a pair of EPs (and a 7″ Yours Truly session released on Small Plates, a label which — full disclosure — I cofounded), the Floridian electronic-folk outfit has remained rather mum while touring the country and presumably recording a follow-up. Whether “Down From The Rafters” is a new single from a TBA sophomore album or just “a song for you” to celebrate Pluto’s discovery (2/18/1930), as the band suggested, mum’s still the word. But given the song’s spectacular production value, the effort put into the artwork (below) and the timing (two years?), a new album is likely on the not-too-distant horizon. Sun’s already peeking:
For bands with debuts as acclaimed and accomplished as Hundred Waters’, the hardest thing for the sophomore album to achieve is restraint. It’s the mark of immensely talented, patient (two years), controlling musicians. It’s considerately measured reflection, closed off from the external influences of expectation that could otherwise adulterate the purity of their ambition and artistic expression. As frontwoman Nicole Miglis surmises, “Only after after all the fog has long dissolved / take a little pill, drown it out in laughter / take a little pill, maybe think about it after.” “Down From The Rafters” doesn’t explode from every angle, it doesn’t scream for attention, it hardly even wants it. It creeps, hazily, foggily, as the title suggests, down reluctantly from the dusty, forgotten supports that otherwise hold it in place. It’s the anti lead single, emboldened by its subtlety, brazenly reserved, as delicate as the humid attic airspace it occupies. For a band with as perfect a debut album as 2012’s Hundred Waters, should we expect any different for 2014’s second?
How ahead of the curve is this band, and how delightfully refreshing is that?
One of my favorite things about St. Vincent is that on each album she manages to introduce something new while still retaining elements of what drew you to her in the first place: Actor‘s masterfully incorporated string arrangements; Strange Mercy‘s standouts “Cruel” and “Surgeon” funky grooves. Though enjoyable, I felt like the latest singles from the upcoming self-titled fourth record sort of lacked that spirit of exploration; of traversing previously uncharted territories and returning with something exciting to display. “Digital Witness” perhaps comes close with its use of brass but isn’t so new when you factor in that it was the crux of Annie Clark and David Byrne’s Love This Giant collaboration.
Enter “Rattlesnake”. Premiering during Diane Von Furstenburg’s Fall Collection where St. Vincent played a bunch of new album cuts, its far and away my favorite of the newly revealed tracks. The most exciting about it is Clark shelves her guitar for most of its duration – an interesting gambit considering slaying on guitar is essentially what she’s known for but it’s intrepid boldness captured my attention immediately. It’s all buzzy synths and serpentine vocal lines built upon a repetitive minimalistic riff. It’s a pretty firm reminder that St. Vincent’s true skill is in her innovative narratives that manage to go from comforting to careening in an instant. It’s pretty stellar track that bristles with danger despite it’s inherent poppiness. The added bonus: St. Vincent incorporates choreography into the performance. Prepare to swoon.
There’s hardly any information out there about Dyev, the Wilmington musician responsible for the handful of eccentric experimental pop tracks currently spinning at this soundcloud page. The best of which, “Good Laugh”, is a psychedelic daydream through found-sounds fields, multi-layered harmonies and jolting subterranean bass thumps that wouldn’t be out of place tucked somewhere inside Animal Collective’s excellent Fall Be Kind EP.
It’s inventive, unassuming musicians like Dyev that need as much encouragement as they can get — hopefully we’ll get more soon.
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