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High Places

High Places

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Album Review

Using samples, loops, found sounds, household appliances, and a highly developed sense of childlike joy and wonder, High Places create some magic on their debut full-length album. The duo of Mary Pearson and Robert Barber take a get-in-where-you-fit-in approach to their sound, splicing in elements of indie pop, electronica, world music, dub, and outer space kids music and ending up with a sound that isn't miles away from what fellow sonic adventurers like Panda Bear or El Guincho are doing, but retains more than enough individuality and invention to be totally unique and original. Credit Barber's amazing ability to weave bits and bobs of noise and sound into a blipping, jerky music that soothes the ears and makes your feet want to move. It could have easily ended up a jumbled mess or a corny gimmick, instead it sounds like a thoroughly modern update on the kind of primitive music humans have been making all along. Pearson's vocals too deserve all kinds of praise. They are unfailingly sweet without being sugary, sometimes treated and trippy but always directed straight for the heart. She gives the whirlwind of sound a stable and very human center. Within the group's hermetically sealed and unified world of sound there is enough variation to keep things very interesting, whether it's stuttering dance beats on "Gold Coin," the heavenly clouds of what sounds like bells and strings but could be anything on "Papaya Yeah," the almost Chinese guitars on "The Storm," or the clattering steel drums on "The Tree with the Lights On It," Barber and Pearson show a mastery of atmosphere and dynamics without sacrificing the beauty of the melodies and the impact of the songs. High Places' debut lives up to the promise of their singles (and then some) and is hopefully the first of many impressive and inspiring records to come from the duo.

Biography

Formed: 2006 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

One of many boy/girl indie electro duos formed in 2006, Rob Barber and Mary Pearson of Brooklyn's High Places approach recording with creative abandon, experimenting with offbeat production techniques like random microphone positioning, pitch shifting, delays, and saturated blankets of reverb to create danceable layers of sound. Playful and peppy, their beats incorporate sparse and hypnotic tribal rhythms, with lyrics that incorporate unusually innocent topics like love letters to Martians and apologies...
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High Places, High Places
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