(HUDSON, N.Y.) – Perfectly timed to ride the wave of guitar wash currently being propelled by like-minded indie-rock duo Sleigh Bells, the four-piece Baltimore-based band Lower Dens, previews songs off its upcoming, long-awaited second album, Nootropics, at Club Helsinki on Thursday, March 1, 2012, at 8 p.m.
Fronted by female singer-songwriter Jana Hunter, whose vocals typically lie buried underneath a sea of gauzy guitars in the fashion of Television, Cocteau Twins and Yo La Tengo, the quartet, already a favorite of Stereogum, Pitchfork, and NPR, will release Nootropics (pronounced No-eh-tro-pics), on May 1. The band has released a video for album cut “Brains,” directed by Tristan Patterson
Swathed in an undersea murkiness, the group’s previous album, Twin-Hand Movement, explored the more ethereal side of freak folk, and was released on Devendra Banhart’s label. From its opening moments to its last, however, Nootropics is concerned with texture and timbre: the papery thump of brush on snare, soft subsonic thunderclaps, the glorious clamor of a wall of symphonically stacked electric guitars.
And there’s the sun-dappled cloudbank of sound of the instrumental, “Lion in Winter, Pt. 1.” “We’d done noise jams in practice to keep our ears fresh, so we developed this one with a bit of a plot to it,’ says Texas-born Golden Apple, R.E.M. coverer, and ex-pizza shop employee Hunter. “That recording is the best we’d ever played it. It’s one of my favorite things we’ve ever done.”
The album title is a reference to Lower Dens’ interest in transhumanism – the use of technology to extend human capabilities. It could just as easily extend to the music itself: “Brains,” with its sleek, metronomic pulse, examines our relationship to technology, in particular artificial intelligence, and is the perfect entryway into Nootropics‘ vast and meticulous vision.
Lower Dens, formed frontwoman Hunter, quickly gained popularity quickly after the first album and were asked to join bigger and bigger tours, with the likes of Bear in Heaven, the Walkmen, Beach House, and Deerhunter, and wound up playing around 200 shows last year, developing the kind of musical telepathy that only relentless touring can bring.
The band also features William Adams, bass; Geoffrey Graham, drummer; Nate Nelson, guitar; and keyboardist Carter Tanton.
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