nedjelja, 9. prosinca 2012.

Exitmusic - Passage

Veličanstven pompozni pop. Između Zola Jesus i Arcade Fire (u smislu epske melodrame). Odjavne pjesme za romantične goth distopijske filmove.

Passage, the first full-length album from Brooklyn's Exitmusic, is a dark, sludgy beast of a record that slithers before it strikes. It broods and rumbles, full of anger and anguish and loneliness, before erupting in a squall of tortured release. It's mostly bleak and intensely emotional, but also beautiful.
Aleksa Palladino and Devon Church, the married performers behind Exitmusic, offer little hope in these meditations on grief and heartache — what's wrong, guys? — but they make their strange world of sound alluring enough to be enjoyable. They pull it off with a simple but potent formula built around stark contrasts: Palladino's voice is both creepy and seductive. It floats elegantly in an otherwise crude and densely layered sea of guitar noise. Simple, spare beats hold chaotic soundscapes together while delicate melodies tell troubled tales. The songs are gorgeous and gruesome, soaring and sad, glittering dreams and haunting nightmares.
Palladino and Church began writing songs together after meeting in New York several years ago. Church had just returned from teaching English in India and Taiwan, while Palladino was already an accomplished actress, appearing in Sidney Lumet's Before the Devil Knows You're Dead and Todd Solondz's Storytelling, among many other films. (Most recently, she's played Angela Darmody, a key character in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire.) But nothing in her screen roles has even hinted at the stunning voice she possesses. In Exitmusic, she wields it like a fine but powerful instrument, finessing it with incredible nuance.
Passage, out May 22, isn't the most uplifting record you'll hear this year. Its brightest spot, "The Night," finds Palladino rallying just enough to sing, "My aim is slightly high in the silent night" and "It's only a dream, and the dreamer is bound to awake." In the world of Exitmusic, those qualify as affirmations. But even (or perhaps especially) in its bleakest moments, Passage is one the most memorable and absorbing records you'll hear in 2012. -

Much of the press Brooklyn duo Exitmusic garnered for its 2011 EP, From Silence, depended as much on the pair's backstory as their tension-dependent sound. The tale of Aleksa Palladino and Devon Church, after all, is more than a good narrative hook; it's a real-life manifestation of the kind of woozy, romantic arch you've either seen in your daydreams, on the silver screen, or in paperbacks filed in the young-adult or classic literature sections. The daughter of a New York opera singer, Palladino met the relatively agrarian Church in the smoking car of a train while backpacking across Canada. They were teenagers. The new friends tried to watch a meteor shower from the train's observation car, failed, and soon bid adieu; Church wrote her letters, bid for her affection, and eventually just moved to New York and in with her. They got married on Mulholland Drive, she found success as an actress, and they since started an interesting indie rock band together. "As they share a cigarette on the walk to their apartment, they think about their coming week," read a 2011 profile for The Stool Pigeon. "The Emmys, New York Fashion Week, the season premiere of 'Boardwalk Empire'." Yes, then, sometimes love can be like the movies.
But Palladino and Church's shared past is more than simple star-laced bait; it's essential to the drama and radiance of their music. If their story sounds like one to be written into a movie, the 10 songs on their Secretly Canadian full-length debut, Passage, feel like scores for pictures not yet made. Insurgent, cinematic, and sometimes brilliant, Passage is an emotionally evocative record bearing sharp hooks, driven deep by heavy textures and broad dynamics. Suggesting Berlin and Bowie, Bedhead and Portishead, Exitmusic's third release continues and catalyzes the pair's stepwise progression, which began with their muted, self-released start in 2007 and last year's refined if stylistically cramped four-track re-introduction. Produced at home by Church but mixed and mastered by the phenomenal Nicolas Vernhes, these songs sound incredible, with their tessellated instrumental layers and intricately woven effects. All at once, it's a sudden move from short films and home movies to a proper, feature-length production. For Palladino and Church, this next level works wonders.
True to her classical pedigree, Palladino is an incredibly versatile singer, able to hurtle gracefully from a Victoria Legrand whisper at the start of "The Modern Age" to a strident command by the time she strangles the tune's final refrain. She sends up smoke during weird waltz "The Night" and plumes of grey during the appropriately named "Storms". Above the outwardly building patter of "White Noise", she shadows the unwavering cool of Zola Jesus; "The Modern Age", the album's lone From Silence holdover, sports the steely glint of the National, just remixed for the fading hours between the dance club's and the bed's rest. During the opening title track, they split her sound open, using her wail as an ornate thread in much the way Sigur Rós once did with Jónsi Birgisson's croon. On "The Wanting", her singing and the treatment the pair give it again mirror Birgisson's alien tone. It becomes the all-encompassing gauze around, above, and beneath a piano-and-bass plod. Both multi-instrumentalists, she and Church weave these vocals into deft thickets of occasionally abrasive electronics, chime-to-roar guitars, wobbly organs, and drums that help conjure the melodrama. But Palladino's adaptability is clearly Exitmusic's anchor, the unifying characteristic that allows the band to scatter from film to dance music, from post-rock heights to mellow-gold lows.
In the wake of so many Silver Lake indie hitmakers and Williamsburg careerists, it's tempting to dismiss Exitmusic as the vain time-sink of two well-to-do adults suspended in artistic adolescence. Perhaps you assume that the indie rock aspirations of a starlet who once acted opposite Scarlett Johansson must somehow smack of condescension. But to Exitmusic's great credit, Church is no Pete Yorn, and there's very little that's precious or reserved about this music or the way Palladino sings. Instead, it's audacious and ambitious, twisting lyrics about depravity and loneliness into shared anthems meant for overcoming both. More than a cash-in or credibility play, Passage simply pulls several familiar objects into one detailed picture, a predictably good look from a pair whose script seems every bit as written as much as lived.  - Grayson Currin

Interesting idea, calling your band Exitmusic. The music that soundtracks the final moments of a film as the actors disappear from the screen, as the credits roll and the audience take in what they’ve seen, is meant to be poignant; it’s meant to reinforce the feelings aroused by the film’s resolution (or lack thereof). It’s the music of reflection, consolation and/or summation.
This Brooklyn four-piece, then – centred around founding bandmates Devon Church and Aleksa Palladino – have made an evocative choice in nomenclature, suggesting that theirs is the music to end stories, to accompany the completion of an emotional (one way or the other) journey. It’s clear from the start of debut album Passage that they’re striving for the epic, the panoramic, the intransient – what ambition! At times they manage it, like in the opening title-track when the surround-sound of shimmering guitars and echoing percussion swells at the very moment Palladino’s vocals rise for the line, “You’re so in-credible”, his voice cracking all along the last drawn-out syllable. Or when the lone guitar in ‘The City’ suddenly collides with a wall of stormy noise, like a forest of towers crashing together.
But too often they don’t quite get there. In mid-album numbers, ‘Storms’ and ‘The Wanting’, the multi-track layering, embellished with thick coats of reverb and delay (courtesy of Deerhunter mixer Nicholas Vernhes), doesn’t disguise the fact that the central melodies are fairly basic. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Not to paint a misleading picture – when the vocals are soaring, top-of-the-lungs fare, practically screamed, the distortion works a treat. What’s more, Palladino’s voice has much in common with Zola Jesus, who also frequently uses heavily distorted vocals. It’s just that when she hushes in with her unmuddied “ah-ahs” at the close of ‘The Modern Age’, I sense that there’s an unaffected, distinct vocal talent hidden here, and I want to hear more of it, up close and personal, like.
Driving home that point is penultimate track, ‘The Cold’, where Palladino’s voice rings clearer than usual (though the words are still largely indecipherable), filling a dark, Spartan moonscape. It’s almost operatic – completely devastated, roaring with unrestrained woe.
What films would these ten songs close, then? They wouldn’t be epic in the classical sense like Gone With The Wind or Spartacus; or in the postmodern dystopian manner of Blade Runner. No, I’m thinking they suit best the epic melodrama of certain indie films, especially those that aim high, but are essentially a little frivolous – you know, there’s some quirky guy who likes a quirky girl, and they have lots of quirky dialogue, and then there’s the bittersweet ending, and it’s meant to be an exquisite work of art. Like many such films (they exist, right?), Passage is endearing, with unforgettable peaks; it looks beautiful at first glance, and has no shortage of beautiful moments, but don’t delve too deeply lest the mirage of a grandiose masterpiece dissolve. - Darren Loucaides

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