The experimental, lo-fi, Brooklyn-based duo High Places could be considered an acquired taste. The vocals are whimsically distorted and much of the percussion sounds as though it were made in someone’s kitchen by rattling a silverware drawer (since their self-titled album was made in their home studio, this may actually be the case). High Places starts off awkwardly slow, and on first listen, the short tunes and chanting rhythms may fail to draw you in. Only by track five, "Gold Coins," a standout gem, do you start to understand this band’s maddening method. The constant feedback of vocalist Mary Pearson’s voice is one part haunting and one part hypnotic.
By the second spin of this album, I got the hang of what was happening and relaxed enough to enjoy the disjointed melodies. I found my foot unconsciously tapping and realized that the succinct songs were quite memorable. High Places began to sound more like a record my artist friends would make over several weekends and heavily edit with ProTools. High Places goes one better and makes their music with authentically weird instruments and improvised live recordings. "Gold Coins," a nod to Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet, explains, "Part of you is man/Part of you is god-self," and the High Places duo walk a similar tightrope. The mix of ethereal and clunky calls to mind a fusion of The Blow and Pole, or maybe the more recognizable Au Revoir Simone meets Animal Collective. Heaven and Earth. High places and low ones.
The High Places blog is full of beautiful concert photos from around the globe. Like other experimental bands, I can grow to love their dreary, dreamy music, which I suspect it is best experienced live.