Serene Electronic Bedroom Pop
Self-Released March 24, 2017
Imaginary Towers is the moniker for Matt Wilson, an electronic musician based in Vine Grove, Kentucky – he released the calm Revive EP just over six months ago. There Are No Shadows Here, seems like the logical continuation of that sound – here, with the benefit of a longer runtime allowing for the exploration of more sounds and ideas. “Whispers,” the album’s third track, finds Wilson’s auto-tuned voice doubled by the synthesizer, an instrument which rises to its loudest presence of the album – even if only briefly – before receding back into the existing texture. His voice is most exposed during the beginning of “I Want You to Have Everything,” before more layers of sound swallow the song. My favorite of the album is “You Can See Through Me,” in which another voice joins Matt’s as he sings “I’ve seen things I can’t explain, you can see through me” – the build to the song’s climax is also paced perfectly, paying off big time. “Highs Mids Lows” is placed towards the end of the album – its melody laid across an extended chord progression, and the track’s title found at the end of each verse: “just don’t get hooked on the highs and the mids and the lows.” For those that heard and enjoyed Revive last fall, this should be a familiar, enjoyable listen – Matt Wilson crafts a serene, densely textural atmosphere on There Are No Shadows Here, making it easy for the listener to close their eyes, relax, and breathe.
Tracks I Liked: I Am You!, Whispers!, I Want You to Have Everything!!, You Can See Through Me!!!, Joy in Anything!, Highs Mids Lows!!
Ben Southworth – March 29, 2017 – Kenwick Place
Harsh Industrial & Playful Electronic
auralgamiSOUNDS – February 3, 2017
ATOMO’s The Evaporated Life is an EP I find myself going back to fairly often – it’s great driving music, work music, or accompaniment-to-just-about-anything music. That release was described as relentlessly optimistic (a fitting description, I think).
Here, ATOMO is paired with another Louisville electronic musician, TonyRobot, whose music is stark contrast to the bubbly beats I had heard before. TonyRobot’s music is in your face, washed in pulsing, distorted synthesizers – even when the synths die down, the beat pounds on in the foreground. On “Doom Stick” the music seems to phase in and out of itself, disorienting the listener and making it difficult to find the top of a phrase. “Death Adder” is my favorite of TonyRobot’s three tracks on the EP – a plodding beat grows until it busts into an echoey wash of moody electronic sounds that would fit perfectly as film music.
ATOMO’s first of three tracks, “When I Met Her Dog,” starts with a palette cleansing chunk of pop organ with no beat before it leaps into a fast-paced, nearly silly tune set around pentatonic tones. ATOMO’s second track is the longest of the EP, a multi-part song called “Tangata Manu: Go Shave Your Head/Sharkbait/Vertigo.” The track is constantly morphing into the next section of the song, interjected with quick spurts of contrasting ideas – the final section is a spacey bit of music and features vocal notes from auralgamiSOUNDS label-mate, Cher Von.
YAWNKILLERS is a quick release with lots of good momentum – TonyRobot and ATOMO play great contrast to each other’s distinct brand of electronic music, and the EP is a fresh, energetic listen from the beginning to the end.
Tracks I Liked: Doom Stick!, Death Adder!!!, When I Met Her Dog!!!, Tangata Manu: Go Shave Your Head/Sharkbait/Vertigo!
Ben Southworth – High Street – March 12, 2017
Self-Released February 14, 2017
Brother Bee is a fairly recent project of Somerset’s Boone Williams, who you may know better from his work in electronic duo, Tiny Tiny. “Rely” is a step in a slightly different direction than the tracks on Tiny Tiny – there’s a familiar calmness in the air on this track, even more so than on other releases from Williams. The drum machines are dialed way back, making room for a pulsing synth bass, guitar, and vocal samples to make up the arrangement. Boone’s opening lyrics, “all the lines I never said, I saved them up to give to you,” express the feeling of finally finding the right one; at the midpoint of the song, “it’s my heart that you hold whenever I’m in your arms,” he reveals the vulnerability of being with someone else. All this leads to the simple, repeatable chorus, “so please rely on me,” where the song reaches its densest point of arrangement – layered vocals, echoing synthesizers, circular guitar patterns, all set upon a simple drumbeat. Much like other recent releases from Boone Williams, this track is clear, thick, and well-produced – those who have heard and enjoyed Tiny Tiny should like these sounds.
Ben Southworth – February 12, 2017 – Kenwick Place
Self-Released – September 6, 2016
Revive starts off quietly with the sounds of crickets chirping and a fire crackling, patiently layering electronic piano and low-key digital drum beats. It feels like the appropriate setting for modern life in rural Kentucky – Imaginary Towers hails from Vine Grove, tucked just south of Fort Knox and home to just over 5,000 people. Though the first track is instrumental, “YRUSO” introduces electronically affected vocals asking “why are you so tired and unhappy” and “why are you so restless and angry” before the singer turns the question towards themselves. “1994” has the catchiest vocal melody of the five tracks, mixing distorted keyboard with clean and clear vocals that reflect on the optimism of childhood, singing “you would never know it now, but there’s a part of me that stayed behind in 1994.” Things slow down even more on “Desire,” parking the vocals a little further back in the mix and allowing the mixture of synthesizers and drums to gently swell and retreat like waves on a shore. A sample of a child speaking places the final track, “Revive,” back into the mindset of the innocence of youth – it remains a quiet and simple track that fades out softly with the sounds of rain and a resonating piano. Revive is brief and quiet, but sets a strong, definite mood for its duration. For those who enjoy low-key, ambient electronica, you’re likely to truly enjoy the music here by Imaginary Towers.
Tracks I Liked: YRUSO!!, 1994!!!, Desire!, Revive!
Ben Southworth – October 2, 2016 – Kenwick Place
Power Pop // Electro Sci-Fi Pop
Self-Released – September 30, 2016
One of my favorite things about Lexington’s music scene is the way that so many musicians are determined to work together. They play in each other’s bands, they record on each other’s albums, and in the case of Signal Delayed, they put out albums together. In preparing for this write-up, I spoke to Scott Whiddon of Palisades, who said: ‘For me, this project represents everything I wanted Palisades to be: community, collaboration, creativity.’ Make no mistake, I wont pretend that Lexington is the only city where musicians are nice to each another – I’m just grateful, because I imagine that not every city is so lucky.
The first side of Signal Delayed is a pair of power pop songs from Palisades. The first of which, “Pretty Thief,” is familiar sounding (if you’ve listened to Palisades previously) – it’s full of bright guitars, a super quick and catchy chorus, and uses every bit of its runtime for something a little different than what came before it. “Tough Shakes” is a fair bit grungier and moodier than the more sugary pop that Palisades have produced in the past. Most of the lyrics of are more spoken than sung, the guitars are weightier than usual, and the lyrics have a little more bite than usual. That said, the production on these songs is at a place I haven’t heard from Palisades before – all the instruments are rich, well-balanced, and crystal clear (plus, the organ sounds on “Pretty Thief” adds a nice bit of light-hearted texture).
As far as I know, this is the first new recorded music from Big Fresh in a good while (since Moneychasers came out in 2011, maybe?) In case you’re not familiar with Big Fresh, it’s a long-running collective of musicians fronted by John Ferguson that has been around since 1998. The songs on the second side of Signal Delayed are funky, synth-heavy, and sci-fi flavored. “Atlantis” is quick, but punchy and in your face with a buzzing synth in the front of the texture and echoey vocals singing things like “we launched a rocket in space, we blast a hole in your face.” “Night Driving” is the perfect foil to the song preceding it – the quiet, low-key groove of the chorus is much more mellow and has the perfect feel for a song about driving at night. The many members of Big Fresh are orchestrated richly on this track, with horns and keyboards imitating vocals, a very well-chosen soundbyte, and drums helping to direct the song through its course.
If you’re a lover of Lexington music, it’s a no-brainer to find yourself a copy of Signal Delayed. It’s two great bands (whose collective members are likely in ten or more bands between them), four great songs, and I hear it’ll even be available on red vinyl! You can pick it up when you see both bands this Friday at The Green Lantern, or grab a copy the next time you stop by your favorite local record store.
Tracks I Liked: Pretty Thief!!, Tough Shakes!, Atlantis!, Night Driving!!
Ben Southworth – September 24, 2016 – Kenwick Place