Michigan-based musician Andrew Buczek likes to wander through and around the storied histories of indie rock -- his music as Coastal Car is evidence of both his fondness and reverence for these sounds. These rhythms are definitely well-mined and boast some truly communal bits of nostalgia, but he never allows their familiarity of undermine the unique foundations that he builds to support their weight. As his indie rock instincts slowly melt into a mass of indie pop tendencies, you begin to see how easily he transitions from light to dark, from serious to lighthearted, at a moment's notice. And it's in this shift that he discovers the connections necessary to make his woozy ethereal melodies and lo-fi production choices grown on one another without sacrificing the vitality of their individual selves.
On recent cassette, "Silent Moons, Silent Rooms," he explores his deeper pop songwriter inclinations, choosing to follow them through lush rhythms, radiant melodies and quasi-orchestral arrangements. Not dissimilar from the work of artists like Kurt Vile and Elliott Smith, his songs tend toward the introspective, forgoing the illumination of center stage for something less adored but much more highly prized. He is able to fashion these dreamy tracks with minimal fanfare, even when such excitement is warranted. From slower songs like "Sweetness and Light" and "Me, Myself and I" to the more churning psych-pop froth of "Sunshine Girl" and "Ode to the Shed," Buczek never relents in offering us an intimate glimpse into his different creative processes, choosing to confront the events and consequences of his words and music with a mixture of preternatural confidence, melancholy and hope.
Ben Recht and Isaac Sparks do a lot with very little. As The Fun Years, they construct harrowing and occasionally frightening drones and minimalist rhythms that rely on only a baritone guitar and turntable for their creation. Their work can be gossamer, thin enough to see through, and yet still possess a formidable personality. They find resonance and even beauty in delicate melodies and unorthodox composition, layering subtle musical variations by mood and texture. Possessing a contemplative nature, their music never rises to a roar or tries to pummel you into submission -- it's far more clever and subtle than that. With just a few airy whispers, it can either completely devastate or comfort depending on what is needed.
Their latest release, "A Heart to Heart About Our Values," is built of the same influences as their prior work but is slightly more affecting, with songs rotating between quiet-as-a-whisper reflections and noisier melodies. This is still strictly drone territory, but that shouldn't come as a surprise to fans. That being said, their music here isn't aloof, doesn't distance itself for their audience. It's insular but approachable. The drawn-out sounds bend and flex until their interior frameworks threaten to snap or collapse. But this is done with a deft touch, never without purpose or direction. The band is compelled to lay out these rhythms and to inspect them for any signs of decomposition or buckling. "A Heart to Heart About Our Values" is a statement from The Fun Years that you can still observe some mystery and secrecy if you know where to look and listen.
Kyle & Wilbur, "Springtime Comes to Every Household"
Settling at the midsection of classical music and electronic experimentation is the work of Nicholas Langley and Will Baby (who met while playing in Alasdair Willis' improv group The Vitamin B12), and under the moniker of Kyle & Wilbur, they construct fractured pieces of sound using flutes, violin, zither and frayed electronics. It's often stark but not without emotion, an austere observation on the complexity of life that rings with an skewed rhythmic inflection. They approach their music with little to no regard for genres or boundaries, preferring instead to let the sounds wander and then rest where they choose. There's little in the way of resolution, but that's not really the point. Kyle & Wilbur make music that doesn't need answers and often goes out of its way to avoid affirming either influence or inspiration -- it's unpredictable and often tidal in its evocation of unbridled emotion.
With their new release, "Springtime Comes to Every Household," they walk a fine line between classical arrangements and electronic exploration. But in this dichotomy, there is no discordance -- where you might assume to find disparity, there is only cohesion. They know exactly how to layer these sounds to draw out every last bit of pertinent feeling, to allow each track to expand and evolve in its own due course. There's no hurry, no self-indulgence, only the forward momentum and complex creativity needed for these songs to impact your senses with as much force as possible. That's not to say that these tracks are dense; they're not built to be weighed down by an unnecessary gravity. Their meticulous and opaque construction allows for the music to present itself in as many forms as possible and to dig down into the deepest parts of your subconscious with relative ease.
Hailing from Portland, Indira Valey is a multi-instrumentalist and performance artists whose work channels an earthy authenticity even as it digs deep into some beautifully ethereal atmospheres. It's this combination of familiar and alien sounds that so completely entrances you, filling your mind with a clarity and purpose that reflects the determination and enveloping nature of her music. Her voice is filled with the experiences and echoes of countless lifetimes, shaking with the knowledge bequeathed by her ancestors -- and in this history, she reveals the detail and precision with which she attempts to commune with those familial ghosts. Using pedal boards, looping machines and other instruments (including flugelhorn, timpani and kalimba), she builds this amorphous and emotionally devastating landscape of droning rhythms and half-obscured melodies.
On her latest release, "No Me Tengas Miedo," Valey allows herself to become fully immersed in these slowly unfolding drones and liquid noises; she observes and relates her music through both a minimalist and slightly dense musical perspective. The music seems to absorb into your skin, disregarding physical borders and laying waste to your carefully positioned defenses. These sounds appear larger and larger with each listen, rising in stance and force with each passing moment. Stray scraps of melody ping back and forth in the din of its existence, while collections of unidentifiable noises shake and shudder in the background. It's almost overwhelming but manages to connect on a primal level, never losing sight of its own identity in service to its wondrous and emotional movements.