11 Songs, 39 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The Brooklyn quintet Ava Luna are like a troupe of high-flying acrobats, with their feats of musical derring-do keeping you on the edge of your seat. In creating their sophomore album, the band members retreated to a cabin in upstate New York. There they recorded a set of songs full of more influences than most ice cream shops have flavors: '60s soul, avant-jazz, no-wave art rock, strutting disco, and good ol'-fashioned experimental noise. What sounds like a cacophony is actually the opposite: a mesmerizingly orchestrated set of songs where anything can happen. On "Sear Robuck M&Ms," a deep funk beat lays the foundation for Becca Kauffman (one of three vocalists) to screech scraps of hepcat lingo—it's The JB's reimagined as arthouse music. "Aquarium" has a mind-bending flamenco lilt to it, while "Plain Speech" is a heady slab of early-'80s downtown-NYC art rock. Don't mistake Electric Balloon for a cerebral art project, though: from the neo-soul of "Hold U" to the sharply funky "Daydream," this record is full of visceral thrills.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The Brooklyn quintet Ava Luna are like a troupe of high-flying acrobats, with their feats of musical derring-do keeping you on the edge of your seat. In creating their sophomore album, the band members retreated to a cabin in upstate New York. There they recorded a set of songs full of more influences than most ice cream shops have flavors: '60s soul, avant-jazz, no-wave art rock, strutting disco, and good ol'-fashioned experimental noise. What sounds like a cacophony is actually the opposite: a mesmerizingly orchestrated set of songs where anything can happen. On "Sear Robuck M&Ms," a deep funk beat lays the foundation for Becca Kauffman (one of three vocalists) to screech scraps of hepcat lingo—it's The JB's reimagined as arthouse music. "Aquarium" has a mind-bending flamenco lilt to it, while "Plain Speech" is a heady slab of early-'80s downtown-NYC art rock. Don't mistake Electric Balloon for a cerebral art project, though: from the neo-soul of "Hold U" to the sharply funky "Daydream," this record is full of visceral thrills.

TITLE TIME
2:33
3:00
4:37
2:19
4:30
2:58
3:47
4:06
4:14
3:33
4:09

About Ava Luna

The roots of Brooklyn-based indie art funk septet Ava Luna began in frontman Carlos Hernandez's high-school bedroom, where he would write and record songs under the name Ava. In college he met Julian Fader and Nathan Tompkins, and the three of them changed the band name to Ava Luna, figuring "Ava" was probably already taken by a more prominent act somewhere. Hernandez spent time as an engineer and working on various small-scale noise and punk projects after college, with Ava Luna coming in and out of focus as the years went on. With 2009's 3rd Avenue Island, a homemade CD-R release, the band congealed yet again, this time featuring Hernandez on vocals with a host of various singers and a minimal musical backdrop of drums and synthesizers. The band followed in 2010 with the Services EP, featuring a different lineup and a sound that continued toward the heavy vocal harmonies of bands like Dirty Projectors with increasingly obtuse neo-soul-inspired musical backdrops. A proper debut surfaced in 2012 with the release of Ice Level. By this point the band was more or less in a stable lineup, featuring Hernandez on vocals and guitar, Fader on drums, Tompkins on synths, Ethan Bassford on bass, and a trio of female singers, Felicia Douglass, Becca Kauffman, and Anna Sian. The group toured in support of Ice Level, opening some larger shows for Twin Sister. They returned with the less chaotic follow-up Electric Balloon in 2014 and an even more traditionally structured set of art funk and R&B-infused songs with 2015's Infinite House. ~ Fred Thomas

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