Soft Opening (Smalltown Supersound)
Smalltown Supersound is very pleased to introduce the world to Brooklyn duo Pearl Necklace. Pearl Necklace is Bryce Hackford and Frank Lyon. Soft Opening is their debut release.
Born of kinship and a fascination with sampling, Pearl Necklace stand out in a crowded, often derivative Brooklyn scene. Soft Opening is something else. It is the sound of something mysterious, something beguiling, something unique and exciting.
Like their name, a mischievous double–entendre certain to conjure a sly grin, the music of Pearl Necklace is similarly coded. Nothing is quite what it seems. Hackford & Lyon share a fascination with text – with language, sound, meaning and with forms of communication. Soft Opening is a subtle but distinct dissemination of all of that, wherein all we think we know is revealed to be, in fact, quite alien.
Building on their predecessors fascination with Sound as Text – from Pierre Henry to early Cabaret Voltaire to Christian Marclay to Matmos – Pearl Necklace define their SoundWorld by an open–minded approach to sampling, using source material of various fidelities – field recordings, Library records, dusted disco cuts, et cetaera – and live, primarily synth–based instrumentation, plus definitive use of an MPC1000 sampler.
Derived from improvisations, Soft Opening was recorded in a relaxed pace over the course of a year in Hackford's studio in Williamsburg. While they wrote, a few guests popped by the studio to lay down some ideas: Alexis Georgopoulos, better known as ARP – who sensed a kinship between Pearl Necklace and Smalltown Supersound and subsequently introduced band to label – and Andrew VanWyngarden, better known as the singer of MGMT.
"Another Invocation of the Breath" is an appropriate mission statement as there ever was, as the sound of the breath can be heard throughout the album mingling with noise and rhythm. An introduction of sorts, it presents the Pearl Necklace palette in motion – mechanized rhythms, ghostly clouds of sound moving in indeterminate but determined ways, bell tones looping, the crackle of who knows what creating a disturbing sense of foreboding, analog synth tones pulsing, … "Doorbell" is the sound of your old Nintendo box waking up and heading to the disco. On the way, he decides to knock over a bunch of garbage cans and drive 40mph into the nearest parked cars.
"Did You Feel It?", meanwhile, is all anticipation. An Italo chugger that wouldn't sound out of place in a Fabio Frizzi or John Carpenter score, ARP's minimal bassline and synth sequence move steadily towards that infinite vanishing point. The wonky, elliptical wooze that are "Don't" and "Radio Love" gives Clam Casino a run for his money. These could be new Lil' B joints. Maybe they will be. "Leak" begs for more. Sounds of water squishing around an aquatic dub bassline, one only wishes it would go much longer.
"Why Toto?" and "Pearlfriend" feature a quieter side of Pearl Necklace, the former suggesting the uncomfortable spaces honed in on by Throbbing Gristle or perhaps the Motion Sickness of Time Travel, the latter – with its loping bass tones and synth–harpsichord refrain courtesy of ARP – moving closer to the Black Forest tones of classic Cluster. Album–closer "Wist" is a lovely come down. Featuring organ contributions from VanWyngarden, it's a conclusion that, while perfectly punctuating this fantastic debut, hints at much more to come.
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