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Brookland Oaklyn

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Album Review

It's really hardly a surprise that Alias has delved completely into indie electronica/trip-hop. 2005's Lillian, made with his brother Ehren, was practically one ambient soundscape, and Muted, the album that spawned the collaboration between himself and singer Tarsier, was all but void of its Anticon alternative hip-hop connotations. But perhaps that's what Alias is trying to do, anyway: dispel connotations. Yes, he's a hip-hop producer, and yes he's a rapper, but he's also interested in lush, layered atmospheric instrumentals, both organic and synthesized, that blend and contrast with one another like the colors on painter's palette. And what he and Tarsier do on Brookland/Oaklyn is exactly that. There aren't so much songs on the record as explorations of movement, thought, and mood. Keyboards come together with distorted guitars, muddy trip-hop beats meet violins. Tarsier's voice, which often takes a kind of Björk-like haunt, fits smoothly with the tracks that Alias has laid down. It's often clear and smooth, alluding to loneliness and regret, but Alias as producer doesn't hesitate to distort and echo the vocals, putting the singer in the bottom of a well, at the end of a long telephone line, or deep under the earth in a large cave. The idea of space may be the most interesting part of Brookland/Oaklyn, because Alias & Tarsier never had any physical contact with one another during the entire recording process, relying instead on other means to send their work across the country, and this distance is reflected in the album itself. Yes, most electronic-based music does have a sort of sense of separation to it, but this is manifested even more strongly between Alias & Tarsier, as if with their respective voices they're trying to bridge the expanse between them, even though they know they'll probably never succeed. But maybe it's the knowledge of the futility of their actions that also keeps the album from completely taking off. Tarsier hardly bothers to change her melodies much from track to track, and while Alias will hint at build-up (the dark, intense vocals he adds to "Last Nail" and "Luck and Fear," the electric guitar that begs to do more in "5 Year Eve"), nothing ever really happens. Everything calms back down, returns to how it once was, quits without really trying to make itself realized. The album is so close to being fantastic, and knowing the potential that exists is what makes it so frustrating when Brookland/Oaklyn comes up short.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

California-based Anticon producer Alias had never heard about New York-based Rona "Tarsier" Rapadas before he got a letter from her one day in 2003, shortly after the release of his instrumental-based album Muted, telling him how much she liked his work, if he would listen to her band (Brooklyn indie electronica outfit Healamonster & Tarsier), and if he would ever consider remixing Muted with her vocals. Alias was so impressed by her samples that he immediately sent Tarsier four beats, asking...
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Brookland Oaklyn, Alias & Tarsier
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