Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Brief Candle, Sleepersound, L’Eclair

June 24, 2020

Brief Candle‘s Absurd Dances falls somewhere between instrumental beats, ambient, and found-sound pastiche. The four tracks rely heavily on hip-hop-influenced kit-sounding drums, found-sound speech recordings, textural synths, and nylon-string guitar for its approach. The tunes add in other elements to differentiate the tunes: the lead melodies of “Don Juan” and “Deserts” are classical-guitar inspired, while “Saint-Just” leans in to some processed keys and vaguely Spaghetti-western guitar for the top line. “The Actor” is the most complex of the tunes, using a larger-than-usual drum pattern and lazy keys on top of synths, phased bass, and vocal clips. It’s the least “dry” of the tracks.

The first three rely on a sparse, formal, familiar quality to endear themselves, while the fourth amps up the ideas of each track into a more enveloping, fully-developed space. All four tracks are great, showing off technical know-how, strong mood, and flashes of melodic brilliance. I look forward to more from Brief Candle.

Sleepersound‘s In Medias Res tugged a string deep in my musical soul. One of the first indie-rock albums I ever heard was Sleeping at Last’s Ghosts (2003!). In Medias Res and Ghosts both do things that make me swoon: combine art-school sensibilities to noisy, distorted guitars; feature high-pitched vocals; move seamlessly from spartan ballads to indie-rock to noisier work; cultivate an air of night-time outer-hush-inner-noise; and manage to be distorted and heavy without feeling aggressive. It’s music of internal anguish; it’s emo but without the punk-rock trappings. (It should be noted: I love the punk rock trappings in other places.)

In Medias Res is a deeply felt record that paints in dark blue hues. Anyone who likes early ’00s indie-rock (Modest Mouse, Death Cab for Cutie, et al.), when indie-rock was “rock that doesn’t sound like stuff on the radio,” will love this.

L’Eclair’s Noshtta is exactly the sort of record I want in the summer. It’s a peppy, upbeat take on instrumental music that puts  funk, tropicalia, disco, and indie-rock into a blender. The results are perfect for jamming to–headbobbing is a must. The vibe is perfect for a summer party. Opener “Cebando” goes heavy on the wah guitar over the rubbery bass line and rattling-snare percussion, while the claves and washed out chords of “Atlantis” amp up the woozy tropicalia mood to 11. “Dallas” meshes the two, letting the tropicalia have the lead on the mood while the funky backline keeps the song moving for a productive tension.

Closer “Carousel” is a little more dramatic, leaning on staccato indie-rock guitar and synths to create a magnificent LCD-Soundsystem-in-Miami approach. The whole EP is vastly commendable, with no filler to be found in the four cuts. This is how you do an EP right. Great job, everyone!

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Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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