interview – mister lies

– featured image courtesy of brian vu –

despite – or perhaps in spite of – a string of well-received releases in the first half of the decade, nick zanca hit the pause button on his mister lies project around the end of 2014. after five years in the wilderness, zanca returns to the moniker this week with a self-titled, self-released album.

mister lies is a fairly brief endeavor; its ten songs clock in at around a half-hour and are best digested all at once, preferably without interruption. anchoring the release is “the commuter,” a track whose titular subject would be the ideal consumer of this body of work: perhaps not someone inbound, about to start their day, but someone outbound, retreating to solitude and stillness.

we caught up with zanca in the weeks leading up to his return to discuss his new album, how his collaborative work with quiet friend has influenced his solo output, and the quest to search for influences outside of the realm of music. check out the transcript, lightly edited for clarity, below.

it’s been nearly five years since you released the last mister lies album. what caused you to step away from the project, and what led you back?

stepping away was necessary. i was halfway through my freshman year of college when i put out the first EP on bandcamp and at that age insecurities were still deep and blind spots were still wide. i had learned ableton by looking over friends’ shoulders and stumbled upon my sound almost by accident.

the response to that early material was overwhelming. in a matter of weeks, opportunities presented themselves that usually take years for artists to reach – nearly every weekend in the coming semesters were spent flying out to play shows. as excited and grateful as i was, it was as if i had acquired an audience before a sense of self. 

eventually i would drop out of school to tour after my sophomore year, usually with other young producers who had experienced the same kind of rapid rise in that same strange internet microcosm of “chill”-adjacent electronic music. the absurdity of our individual situations and the privilege of sharing music with strangers was a source of solidarity, but the performance anxiety always persisted. i was quietly struggling to embrace being queer and neurodivergent in a scene that thrives on hedonist aesthetics, male gaze imagery and smartphone solipsism. it was often a musical neverland – unless an audience is on your side, it refuses to grow up. there were a lot of personal and professional endings. i rode the wave as far as i could, but i began to feel like i was wearing a mask. it took effort to take it off, deflate the ego and let life happen.

giving myself room to be human was probably a good start – i finished my degree, fell in love, got closer to family – but developing a intense relationship to listening outside the context of product was what got me back on my feet creatively. starting quiet friend and shifting focus to something rooted in a group effort rewired my brain. it was something i didn’t know how to do for a while. i’ve also worked as a music supervisor for hospitality venues for a few years now, and the site-specificity of sound has become something i engage with daily.

shortly after the quiet friend record came out and we were playing shows around new york, i was sifting through old hard drives and was blown away by the amount of sketches i was sitting on. i started there and recorded alone at home with what free time i had on the weekends. at first it felt like putting on an old shirt that no longer fit, but eventually the fabric stretched out, i followed the ideas that came, and a year later i had a record. 

in the interim, you’ve kept busy with quiet friend. how does your compositional approach differ (if at all) when working independently as opposed to collaboratively?

the two ways of working seem to inform and complement each other, especially now that i’ve found a balance of both. in a group context, you’re mostly letting the ideas of others in, and i was really hungry for that at the time. i tend to internalize a lot when working alone, but with others i found what i eventually recognized to be personal strengths to reinforce themselves and echo – thick textures, bricolage, a sense of place. it’s a great way to get your writers block unstuck and i’d recommend it to anyone struggling with a solo practice – you discover what it actually is you bring to the table and then are able to take that home with you and truly utilize it.

this record i made on my own couldn’t have happened without that experience. steven and i are just getting started, but i’m proud of that record we made and the strange extended family we’ve developed in the process of getting the band off the ground. i’m excited for that music to reach more ears. 

this new album has a fair amount of found sounds and electroacoustic elements – it’s very soundscape-y, for lack of a better term. who or what were some touchstones when you were writing these songs?

i have a tendency to get wrapped up in musical influence, and this time around i did my best to avoid relying on that in favor of inspiration pulled from other disciplines. in general though, i think one of the major differences between then and now is that my taste has started to embrace the longform and lean toward slowness and meditative commitment.

clarice lispector’s writing and chantal akerman’s films encourage those who consume them to have patience for a slower and fluid pace, borderline glacial, and the end result is something so human that accentuates the everyday. my record is the durational opposite – it’s over and done in thirty minutes – but it aims to capture the present and recreate the surrounding world in the same way. 

of course, i am easily impacted by what i hear and can’t ignore that. field recordings and found sounds have been an important part of my practice from the beginning, but i think this record is the first time that they are being treated as the central focus – the environments have become the soloists.  luc ferrarialvin curran and hiroshi yoshimura are all composers in touch with their respective atmospheres and that aspect of their work has had a profound effect on me.

people have always described what i do as “cinematic”. i guess i went into this one with that in mind. 

this album is self-titled; how much of a conscious decision was that?

totally intentional. it feels like the closest thing to pressing the project’s reset button. i see this work as a summation of everything i’ve explored sonically for far, so self-titling simply felt like the move.

listening to mister lies from start to finish in one sitting is optimal, but you’ve decided to share “the commuter” ahead of its release as a preview of things to come. what does that particular song represent to you, and how does it fit into the album overall?

“the commuter” was the first of the batch to feel complete and was also the first indication of the record’s site-specific direction. it’s less of a single and more of an excerpt i was itching to share. of all the tracks on the record, i think it feels the most similar in spirit to the music i made when I was younger, but also works as an introduction to the sonic territory i’ve been interested in occupying lately.

when making records in the past, i would close myself off somewhere and create situations for myself that were unhealthily hermetic – i would let nothing else in but the music. the results produced intense work but the process was not always productive.

this time around, i’ve introduced more balance to my life. anything that i treated as a distraction before – be it the daily routine or the world outside my window – has become a compositional device and fuel for the record. in this case, it’s the introspection and claustrophobia on my way to and from work. 

mister lies is out this friday, august 2nd. read an essay zanca wrote about his album, alongside a full stream, over at talkhouse.

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interview – ryan pollie

– featured image courtesy of dominic ferris –

ryan pollie’s brisk, twenty-five minute new self-titled album is bookended by a pair of choral tracks, brief exercises that retain a remarkably cleansing effect. in the past year or so, pollie relinquished his nom de guerre of los angeles police department, battled cancer, and wrote many of the songs that would wind up on this record, but not necessarily in that order; he received his diagnosis after much of the album was complete, putting those songs – and their existential themes of mortality – into a slightly more immediate context.

under his own name, ryan pollie is much more clear-eyed in his approach to songwriting. the hazy ennui that dotted his output as los angeles police department – a perfect analog to one’s mid-twenties – has disappeared, bucolic slide guitars, straight-ahead acoustic strumming, and detuned piano chords reigning supreme.

breezy though its contents may be, ryan pollie’s aural affect is at times belied by its namesake’s lyrical tone; the plaintive refrain of “my god’s insane” on “aim slow” might serve as a mantra for the entire album, an attempt to explain the inexplicable. “only child” finds pollie addressing his diagnosis and its accompanying uncertainty head-on, while “raincoat” is a brief, heartbreaking ode to a relationship’s end.

the nostalgia of pollie’s earlier work as los angeles police department has throughlines in cuts like “leaving california” and “eyes of vermont,” both awash in images of childhood and home. taken in as a whole, this ten-song collection serves as a potent snapshot of pollie’s current existence, its delivery done in a timeless fashion.

we recently caught up with pollie via e-mail to discuss 1970s singer-songwriters, the fruits of collaboration, and his lingering affinity for new england. check out the transcript, lightly edited for clarity, below.

this is your first album under your own name after a handful as los angeles police department. was there anything in particular that led to you shedding that moniker?

totally. the past few years i’ve been getting heavy into singer-songwriters from the early 1970s. whether american, english, irish, japanese – most of the artists i fell for were making music so personal that the subject matter and the tone was so closely linked to the writer. like graham nash or jackson nrowne both writing really personal break-up albums (both about joni mitchell) – there was just no separation between the songs and the songwriter.

i came to kind of an existential moment where it felt like by shedding a “band name,” i was able to dig a little deeper with what i had to say and how i wanted to represent myself with my art. once i made the decision, it really provided a new space for me to grow as an artist, i think. 

you wrote most of this album, which tends to grapple with mortality and the general essence of being, before receiving a cancer diagnosis. did you subsequently find yourself ascribing new meaning to those completed songs, or a new perspective on the contents and scope of the album? 

i think that’s really perceptive of you to ask, maybe just because that’s absolutely what happened. i had written and recorded most of the material before i knew that i was sick, and the lyrical themes you are describing, that i was already exploring, became even more meaningful to me.

songwriting seems to have this magical prophetic nature sometimes. not always. but for this record, and this has happened to me in the past, i was writing songs about facing death, getting sick, ending a specific relationship – all things that just kind of flowed through me without knowing that they would be around the corner in my life.

the collaborations across this album feel especially significant, given the intimate circumstances surrounding its final stages of creation. can you speak a bit to any part or parts of the collaborative process you found particularly meaningful?

community was a huge part of the album process for me, and a really important part of my life through all stages of making the record.

i feel really proud of where i’m at as far as my relationship with my own work. i not only feel so lucky to have amazing friends and family supporting me in general, but i was able to collaborate with all of my friends in bringing the songs to life. i would reach out to all of my friends who play music, asking them to contribute on different days when i was writing and recording different songs, and they all were so graceful in that they really gave 100% of themselves to my art.

i can hear the personalities of all my friends all over the record, as if i’m spending time with them, as if they’re in the room with me. it’s nice to know that i’ll have that feeling when i play the record for the rest of my life.

i also mixed the record with one of my best friends while i was going through chemo: brian rosemeyer. he would be in a room with me, as i was pale and bald and sick – i looked like nosferatu. and he would not only give such caring attention to each track, but he was also a huge emotional support for me through that whole experience of getting cancer. i could tell he was emotionally invested in the story i was weaving together, and it really shows, i think, in his work. it was the best get well soon gift, looking back on it now. 

your childhood home is on the east coast, but you seem pretty geographically and musically preoccupied with california. do any parts of life in new england – and its accompanying experiences – seep into your songwriting?

very much so. i wrote “eyes of vermont” in vermont – while listening to a lot of will fox demos. being among the trees, at the lake – it’s so inspiring to me visually and just gives me such a different feeling than california does. it was nice bringing that energy back.

i wrote “leaving california” – originally called “leaving california for vermont” – right after that trip as well. that song is about going home, the fear and anxieties of los angeles and the comfort of the green mountains. 

ryan pollie is out now via anti-.

two meters – two meters

– featured image courtesy of margo dellaquila – 

tyler costolo’s earliest offering as two meters was a force to be reckoned with.  when we premiered the florida songwriter’s debut track, “left behind,” at the end of april, costolo’s ability to transform profound grief into a cathartic was readily apparent, and he was able to subvert that catharsis – donning the millstone again – on the haunting follow-up, “captive audience.”

last friday, costolo released his self-titled debut extended play via the houston label very jazzed.  three additional tracks accompany the aforementioned singles, altogether providing a cohesive introductory statement for his whispered brand of bedroom pop confessionals.  “current sequel” is a weary interlude, paying homage to its title by repurposing the harsh, grating textures of “left behind” for its own mourning metaphor, while the distant arpeggios that populate “trapped inside” are perfect conduits for costolo’s spare exploration of loneliness and isolation.

closing out the project is the slightly macabre yet endearing “web,” its idiosyncrasies bottled up in the angular piano motifs perched atop the texture.  additional production from label mates get a life and pastel feature throughout two meters, and the latter lends their vocals to the finale, wordless echoes that accentuate the project’s haunting thesis.  at just under fifteen minutes, two meters is a compelling debut best – and easily – consumed in one sitting.  listen to the extended play, streaming in full below.

communions – communions

out june 2nd via tough love records
out june 2nd via tough love records

communions are already sonically far-removed from their debut effort, last year’s cobblestones ep.  this fact hasn’t exactly presented itself as a revelatory flip of a switch, but rather a gradual – albeit accelerated – progression; their 7″ that followed traded raw, gloomy horizons for unabashed sunshine, a big first step out from under the shadow of fellow copenhagen post-punk outfit iceage.  on their new self-titled ep, the young danish quartet continues on their journey of carving out their own recognizable niche.

vast improvements in fidelity are immediately evident, but it’s imperative to set that fact aside for a moment.  opening cut “forget it’s a dream” finds communions retracing the path back through the dystopian abyss that birthed them to a more dance-oriented palate adorned with synth pads, textured palm-muting, and a prominent trebly bass line that dictates the song’s entire momentum.  the guitar countermelodies that are layered on top suggest a further shift away from former formulas: arpeggiations are delivered with a distinct purpose that moves beyond outlining the song’s harmonic structure and more towards providing clear and invigorating contour.

similar strategies are again practiced throughout the ep, particularly within the lead lines on “wherever” and the insistent, minimalist repetition at the beginning of “summer’s oath.”  when traditional arpeggios do surface they’re often relegated to supporting roles buried lower in the mix, although “restless hours” is a forgettable chunk of this record precisely because it falls back on old habits.  “out of my world” reads as indicative of everything communions strive to be on this ep: hopeless romantics with a sunny disposition that’s at times warped by heavily-saturated soundscapes.

communions are a very young band that have a very good full-length album brewing inside of them.  their embracement of a higher fidelity runs parallel to their drastic improvement as songwriters, with each added nuance afforded the proper amount of clarity to be fully recognized and appreciated.  in a genre that can be cripplingly formulaic, communions have begun to take the necessary preliminary strides to expand their possibilities, resulting in a solid second ep stuffed full of ambition ambition and triumph.

quarterbacks – quarterbacks

new paltz trio quarterbacks reëmerged early last year with purpose, releasing their second cassette, sportscenter, via double double whammy.  the follow-up to 2012’s earnest loveseatsportscenter again highlighted dean engle’s vocal quiver and the band’s penchant for frantic, twee-indebted pop tunes that often served their purpose in under ninety seconds.  engle shed his rhythm section later that spring for quarterboy, a largely acoustic addendum that found him reinterpreting cuts from across the band’s brief catalogue while quietly introducing key quarterbacks pillars like “center” and “knicks.”  now, after three years and three self-recorded tascam tapes, quarterbacks have offered up their self-titled full-length album, containing nineteen songs that pass by in a brisk twenty-two minutes.  while none of the tracks are new, they have all been re-recorded and properly mastered for the first time, giving quarterbacks the smidgen of high fidelity they needed to truly pack a punch.

engle’s out-of-tune observations and narrations of a relatively mundane day-to-day existence have long been the main focus of quarterbacks, and they’re nicely framed throughout the self-titled.  the front half of the album mostly pulls from sportscenter and quarterboy, resulting in sharp re-imaginings of last year’s hasty demos and acoustic renditions that feel like logical progressions in the band’s evolution, as if the pair of cassettes were just rough sketches of what was to come.  the earwormy descending melody from “pool” benefits from extra clarity and instrumentation, while the finished version of “knicks” is possibly the best slow burner clocking in at under a minute in recent memory.

the final third of quarterbacks draws exclusively on loveseat, and it’s refreshing to realize the importance of engle’s three-year-old love songs.  he sings old cuts like “never go” and “space” with just as much intimacy and urgency as he does on newer efforts, while the inclusion of “simple songs” underscores the fact that large collections of three-chord, minute-long non-sequiturs are the perfect tools for the band to disseminate their message.

for quarterbacks, the trio enlisted the production help of kyle gilbride, who has molded the sound of philadelphia bands like waxahatchee, radiator hospital, and swearin’ over the past few years.  while adhering to the live-take aesthetic of quarterbacks’ previous work, gilbride also managed to tweak the nuances of tom christie’s bass playing (see “not in luv” and “last boy” in particular) while simultaneously capturing max restaino’s perfect subdivisions.  a comparison to cloud nothings’ jayson gerycz is warranted – at the very least in terms of accuracy and intensity – but restaino supplies that intensity without overpowering the rest of the quarterboys, an integral component of the band’s light-footed sound.

it’s momentarily disappointing that quarterbacks doesn’t offer even a taste of new material, but that doesn’t detract from the album’s overall quality.  a whip-smart collection of nineteen songs, quarterbacks is the perfect vessel to deliver its namesake to a wider audience.

7.6/10

viet cong – viet cong

viet cong’s self-titled may be their debut album, but it plays through like an effort of music industry veterans.  which makes complete sense; the calgary post-punk quartet rose from the ashes of women, a band bassist matt flegel and drummer mike wallace contributed to before its untimely dissolution in 2012.  totaling just seven tracks yet clocking in at around forty minutes in length, viet cong straddles the line of art rock experimentation and the maudlin sentiments of their post-punk forefathers.

concussive floor toms reminiscent of an old military documentary usher in the album on “newspaper spoons,” and slowly solidify into something coherent as a mixture of flegel’s chanting and dissonant, buzz-saw guitar feedback is layered over the top.  it’s a telling use of disconnect and tension, and viet cong expertly flirts with its resolution over the next ten minutes of the album.  not until flegel begins his vocal lament on “march of progress” does viet cong bear any semblance to musical consonance, but then the band makes up for lost time with haste.  guitar arpeggios pan fervently from channel to channel in anticipation of the album’s first memorable melody, one propped up by wallace’s drumming which suddenly becomes resurgent in its meticulous and gradual subdivision.

viet cong certainly didn’t emerge from obscurity, and were in fact birthed from a mixture of animosity and tragic loss.  not long after women’s acrimonious split, former guitarist christopher reimer passed away in his sleep, another untimely end that seems to have profoundly impacted flegel and wallace throughout the writing of viet cong.  guitarists scott munro and daniel christiansen contribute admirable amounts of dissonance to the record, particularly on the cascading “bunker buster” and the triumphant post-punk microcosm “silhouettes,” but the two former members of women arguably constitute the more formidable duo in viet cong.  both have risen above their rhythm section duties to contribute to the forefront of the band’s sound, flegel with his commanding turn at lead vocals and subtle-but-integral bass lines, while wallace’s drumming often matches or exceeds melodic instruments in the album’s mix.

viet cong ends with “death,” an eleven-minute funeral pyre ostensibly dedicated to reimer.  the song is neither eulogy nor commentary, but instead falls somewhere in between, a distillation and union of the musical and personal ideas that resonate across the album.  on their debut, viet cong have married chilly experimental soundscapes to equally-chilly post-punk essentials with aplomb, resulting in a stunningly cohesive album that is a decidedly unique and welcome alternative to the usual winter musical fare.  spin it multiple times.

8.1/10

phox – phox

phox has been a staple of the indie music diet in wisconsin for the past two years, but it’s taken the rest of the world a bit longer to catch on.  armed with two eps and a full-length of varying production qualities, phox won over audiences with the combination of monica martin’s powerful voice and the fastidious arrangements that supported it.  by the time last year’s confetti ep dropped, it was clear that phox was a force that deserved to be reckoned with on a larger scale; sure enough, the baraboo sextet started receiving attention from npr for their well-crafted indie folk jaunts and eventually got picked up by partisan records, who have backed the band’s self-titled major-label debut.  if the twelve songs on phox sound familiar to steadfast listeners, that’s because many of them are re-recorded centerpieces of previous releases.

of course, there are two sides to this apparent problem.  the not-so-good side is that only five new tunes turn up on phox and that they pad the beginning and end of the album, perhaps suggesting that they were written out of necessity and not creativity.  the songs that have long defined phox are bookended by “slow motion” and “shrinking violets” – two of the best tracks in the band’s arsenal – while “noble heart” functions as an outlier.  the other side of the coin is that all songs, both new and old, benefit immensely from pristine studio treatment; while the overall structures of the established songs don’t change, they are enhanced greatly by subtle adjustments and changes to the arrangements, like the more insistent percussion on “slow motion” and the guitar lines that cut more clearly on “laura.”

in the long run, it’s better to focus on the latter of those two sides.  phox is an unquestionably talented young band finally getting the stage they deserve, so it only makes sense that they would choose to showcase a distillation of the best work they’ve already created.  besides, it turns out that the new tunes on phox are more than just padding; “raspberry seed” is the most sprawling cut on the album and effortlessly details nearly every timbral trope associated with the band, and “in due time” is a succinct closing number that finds martin singing completely unabashed and with earnest.  for first-time listeners, phox will prove to be a whirlwind experience of sounds and emotions, one that only occasionally drags or becomes too self-involved.  for long-time patrons, this is the collection of high fidelity phox recordings that you’ve probably been waiting for.

7.1/10

st. vincent – st. vincent

even when hiding behind the understated folk sounds of her 2007 debut marry me, it was evident that annie clark was not, and will never be, amongst musicians easily recyclable in the contemporary indie rock climate.  as st. vincent, she demands listeners to pay attention to her lyricism and phenomenal guitar work simultaneously – a feat not easy to achieve – regardless of the genre she’s happened to settle into.  clark has largely gone electric since her debut, drawing on elements of funk, her love of horn arrangements, and angular guitar lines to develop a truly signature style.  maybe that’s why her newest album is self-titled; at this stage in the game, annie clark needs no introduction.

there’s this really thought-provoking article on the trajectory and meaning of the artwork on all of st. vincent’s albums, and it backs up my perception of her latest effort: this record just exudes self-confidence.  both “i prefer your love” and “regret” are comfortable, familiar st. vincent songs, and that’s why clark makes the audience wait until the middle of the album before they are heard.  the front half of st. vincent is full of eclectic aggression; the subject matter of clark’s songs is simple in delivery while slightly abstract in concept, but she staunches any apprehension with vehement orchestration.  album opener “rattlesnake” winds and strikes just like its namesake, with a slithering synthesizer line interrupted by interjections from clark’s voice and some pretty frenzied drumming, and lead single “birth in reverse” keeps the dust off of your dancing shoes.

some of clark’s most inspiring songwriting to date comes in the form of “huey newton.”  the track first finds her navigating through an ostinato synthesizer pattern and singing in her patented ethereal voice, but it soon transcends into a crushing guitar riff bolstered by a commanding, almost harsh vocal delivery that mirrors clark’s austere demeanor on the album cover.  her blend of tried and true with uncharted musical territory in terms of her own career is fearless; it’s something that started to take shape on strange mercy and has now been fully realized, three years later.

while elements of her collaboration with david byrne are evident on tracks like “digital witness,” st. vincent still feels like an album organically grown by annie clark.  i’ve always expected her music to challenge my perception of what is possible in the pop realm, and this batch of tunes certainly did not disappoint.  she may be easing herself into a palate rich with dirty synthesizers and fuzzy guitars, but this is akin to easing oneself into a swimming pool of cold water; there’s ample time to get out and try something new.  annie clark is only knee-high, still capable of writing songs as diverse as “severed crossed fingers” and “psychopath,” and her demonstrated musical intellect and curiosity suggests she’ll never go beyond waist-deep.

8.8/10

boardwalk – boardwalk

boardwalk’s music was made for the coastline, but it’s still an accessible listen for those stuck in landlocked states, like me.  after forming last summer in los angeles, amber quintero and mike edge began writing the songs that appear on the duo’s self-titled debut effort.  the album is full of familiar palates and orchestrations, but it’s the blending of those elements that makes boardwalk’s music decisively their own.

the first boardwalk song i heard was “i’m to blame,” and i was immediately drawn to the vintage organ sounds and muted drum machine beats that were so characteristic of beach house’s early output.  while those similarities certainly are prevalent, it would be foolish to write off boardwalk’s music as a carbon copy of a perfected craft.  amber quintero’s vocals are passive and reserved, free of abrasion and able to float above the textures created by mike edge.  appropriately, her hooks are understated, but they’re present; both “i’m not myself” and “as a man” have a lazy, melancholy feel and float in a fairly limited vocal range, forcing their way into every ear that listens.

 

what really sells this record is its guitar work; comparatively crunchy for an otherwise dreamy atmosphere, the lines on “crying” and “oh well” add an assertive characteristic absent from other ethereal music similar to boardwalk.  there’s a delicious blend of retro baroque pop and spacey, atmospheric qualities on boardwalk that deserves a listen or two, and it’s complete with a few left turn surprises that keep the album fresh, despite its initial familiarity.  fans of early beach house and wye oak will eat this up; i’m just happy to have another album to soundtrack cold fall days.

6.8/10

school of night – school of night

it’s been two years since the antlers’ last full-length album, but the time has passed quickly.  i had all of 2011 to digest burst apart, an album that fell short of the sheer emotive brilliance of hospice yet displayed an enormous growth of musicianship within the tight-knit trio.  the back half of 2012 was sprinkled with consistent listens to undersea, a masterful ep that hopefully foreshadows the material to come on the band’s next studio effort.  amidst all of the touring and recording, multi-instrumentalist darby cicci found time to write and record songs for his own project, school of night.  on his self-titled debut ep, cicci clearly displays his dedication to the antlers’ core aesthetic without really adding anything significant to the palate.

an aspect of school of night readily available to discuss is cicci’s voice; it’s a dead ringer for peter silberman’s natural tessitura, so much that it can trick the casual listener into thinking they’re listening to an antlers track that sounds vaguely familiar.  but while the antlers have time and again blended rock with electronic successfully, cicci chooses to focus only on the latter, creating a body of work that quickly begins to feel stagnant.  school of night eclipses the half-hour mark despite only being five songs long, an issue that proves crippling to the success of cicci’s goal.

a song like “fire escape” is fantastic on its own; slow-burning and incredibly dreamy, it’s reminiscent of a b-side on burst apart that never actually existed.  but when five tracks with an almost identical aesthetic are strung together, listening gets tiresome.  if, like me, you’re looking for some antlers material to tide you over until the next studio album drops, school of night isn’t a terrible choice.  i just wouldn’t recommend listening to the entire ep in one sitting.

5.7/10