Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Benjamin Verdoes: Clean, concise wistfulness

January 11, 2016

The One & the Other - Verdoes

Benjamin Verdoes’ latest EP The One and the Other drips like the steady precipitation of his native Seattle. It’s melancholy and moist, with recordings of chirping birds and nighttime city sounds. Verdoes has tamed these eerie textures with soothing vocals to create a definite style of clean, concise wistfulness.

Starting with the somewhat jarring sound of a car driving by, “Highly Emotional” portrays alienation in a place that seems lively and urban. Verdoes uses dark, electronic texturing and echoing vocals to render a humanistic, raw, internal loneliness that’s imprinted on the rest of the EP.

“Night Walk” commences with a similar sound of a car kicking up rainwater from a curbside puddle, but the rhythm on this track is groovier, more dense, and bewitching. The percussion remains hauntingly steady, the synth creeps, and the whole mood is so darkly ambient, I expected to hear an owl hooting in the background.

One of the more upbeat tracks, “Above Ground,” culminates in a strange, circus vibe as the vocals soar and sweep along high notes. The mood reminded me of The Internet’s “Cocaine,” because of the similar dreamlike quality that Verdoes portrays. “It’s too beautiful to argue/You forgive me, and I’ll forgive you,” the male vocalist sings warmly. A sudden, beautiful interruption of R&B then elevates the instrumentation, and a swirl of that carnival techno pulses even harder.

Tracks such as “Is This All That We Are” and “Eight Oh Eight” are patient and calculated. “Is This All That We Are” utilizes a gorgeous touch of piano and horn, while “Eight Oh Eight” plays on bursts of vocals. But “Beautiful Dying World” is the most angelic, sounding like a big-bodied choir singing a church hymn. Strumming guitar builds up to a celestial drop, which– while not as earth shattering as an Odesza drop–has a parallel euphoric rush.

These six tracks are united in their darkly contoured style, haunting vocals and R&B tendencies, but they each offer something different in terms of tempo and shades of fragility and seriousness.  The One and the Other is an EP to digest solo, with only the rain-washed walls of your city to keep you company. —Rachel Haney

 

Start of the Autumnal Electruinox

September 28, 2015

  1. Diamond in the Rough” – Dr!ve. This weekend I was out at Kibitz Room, and the boogie-down vibe of the red-velvet-lit d!ve bar, where a 99-year-old David Bowie lookalike sat sipping bourbon, could be described with this synth-pop, funk-dr!ven jam. As light as the instrumentation is, there is soul and richness in the brown liquor-warmth of it all.

  2. Baby When I Close My Eyes” – Sweet Spirit. The nine-piece indie band brings it on like a crop top-wearing ‘90s chick with sticky sweet vocals, an attractive string section, and sexy rock qualities.

  3. Highly Emotional” – Benjamin Verdoes. F**k. This really is strikingly emotional. Longing, pulling, swirling soundscapes paired with echoed vocals that sound like they’re galaxies away, how could it not be?

  4. Air” – Clas Tuuth. An electronic breeze of hand claps, light, feminine vocals, and a natural easiness of sound.

  5. Two Bodies” – Flight Facilities (Henri remix). All he needs is five minutes, and all I needed was a half hour to pick myself up off the floor after hearing this gorgeous remake that emphasizes suave European vocals with string, piano, and of course, that tempestuous house beat.

  6. Heart of Glass” – Korr-A. Had to give a shout out to last weekend’s Los Angeles Mad Decent Block Party with this colorful, pop-trap dance party track. Korr-A is that chick people hated on in high school because she was just so much damn cooler than they were.

  7. Groove Squared” – Ghost Lover (Steve Hope remix). Powerful piano, blubbering bass, and minimalist vocals bring Barcelona-infused vibes that make me sad to see summer go.

  8. Chicago Warehouse Party 1995” – Thee Koukouvaya. If this had a video, it would go something like this: Aliens zap you up into a multi-dimensional, techno-laced, time-barren universe and then drop you back down through the atmosphere, tumbling towards Chicago, and crash you through a stained glass warehouse ceiling onto the tranced-out, upward arms of dancing strangers.

  9. Burred Lens” – Arts & Crafts (WIN WIN remix). Burred Lens brings crispness to the Arts & Crafts original that once gets going, rhymically zigzags down an angel-white powdered vertical. Hint, hint, 2:07.

  10. Arch” – Rough Year. Bringing a raw realness that only a citizen of the City of Brotherly Love could deliver, trans artist Rough Year texturizes grit, spooky vocal snippets, and demonic percussion for over eleven minutes of an experience as deep and dark as those Philly potholes.

  11. Golden, Blinding (Feat. Galun)” – Alek Fin. James Blake-esque vocals with severe electronic sensuality it’s not hard to be magnetized to. I haven’t seen Fifty Shades of Grey, but I’d imagine the movie should have went something like this…

  12.  Say My Name (Fakear Remix)” – Odesza (feat. Zyra). Fakear’s fresh remake of the Odesza hit is sophisticated, adding a new filter of flyness achieved through twinkling synth, diamond-encrusted vocal bits, and subtly brilliant drops. This is a crisp remix that’s been released in appropriate unison with the autumnal equinox.
Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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