Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Preludes-New York EP

Preludes, like one of my current favorites, Dirty Beaches, makes fundamentally cinematic music. The band's crisp, eternally wistful dreampop wouldn't have been out of place on the Royal Tenenbaums soundtrack: like most of the songs featured there, it conjures up a distinct, discrete feeling without overstaying its welcome. The songs on the "New York" EP barely exceed 3:35 at most, but each one is a separate movement of what feels like one, fragmented whole. The pairing of deep-as-the-Mariana Trench percussion and synthesizers confused the hell out of me upon first listening, but it grows on you with time.

"Relationships" is built around an insistent violin line. As it slowly develops into a string-and-vocals arrangement, the vocals intone indecipherable mumblings in a hushed, Bon Iver-style tone. Around 1:28, it slows down until the vocals are almost alone, resulting in a minimal, yet somehow lush, bridge.  "Relationships" ends with a bang, as stringwork whirls around a thunderous drumbeat.

"Obligations" takes the percussion of "Relationships" and runs with it: too subdued to dance to, the song's handclaps, tender bass note and a thunderous beat are perversely rhythmic in a very sedate way: I could dance to this after smoking hash, but not while drunk. "Black Spring/Unhappy People" starts off like it's gonna be a club banger, with a menacing bass beat that I keep expecting to explode into techno (or whatever people listen to on Ibiza). That bass never really goes anywhere, and the result is a song that manages the difficult trick of being both monotonous and mesmerizing, if that makes any sense.

"Ariel" felt like a dream, of running down an empty city street on a gray, autumnal day, chasing your lover just after s/he walked out, finally, for the last(?) time. Opening with angelic wailing and chimes, that fucking bassdrum kicks in again to lead you out the door. It's a long walk through the barren New York streets, but maybe s/he will listen; it has an iminent, breathless feeling that it shares with some Eluvium tracks. Eluvium's albums unfold on a vast panorama, but Preludes' songs are as compressed as the streets of Florence. It works.

Preludes' second EP, The Swan, was great, but "New York" has a much fuller sound; I can't wait to hear what they do next, and this is great music for late fall and early winter. LISTEN HERE!!!!

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