Moon and Pollution | Icehouse | Saturday, January 31
"Our album probably wouldn't have come together had it not been for Slug [of Atmosphere]," says Graham O'Brien. "He was playing the Bayfront Festival Park in 2013 and heard our stuff and asked us to open. That gave us a kick in the butt, and we realized we had to come up with some tracks to play live," Graham says.
O'Brien sits at a small table in the back of Common Roots in Uptown. Next to him is Molly Dean, his collaborator on their new project Moon and Pollution. Their album, The Box Borealis, opens the doors to trippy indie rock flooded with lush, dreamy tones.[jump]
A couple of years ago, O'Brien received an email from Dean after she'd heard a piece he had done with Alicia Wiley. The project was a little slow going, for it was another six months before the pair even began writing, and O'Brien was building his studio at the same time. Once he began constructing tracks, the music slowly built itself into something completely different than the two had attempted before.
"The music seemed impressionistic," O'Brien shares between sips of coffee. "I've always been a drummer, and I've been doing some work as a producer. I wanted to steer Moon and Pollution toward combining samples with live drums. With this project, I was able to also explore the compositional side of music and do my own thing as opposed to just taking a bunch of different gigs in different bands to be able to get work -- which is perfectly fine, but in those instances, you're not playing your own music."
O'Brien was able to be very deliberate in constructing each note -- something that is very much the antithesis of what he does in Coloring Time, his other band where each member plays off each other and constructs their parts in a live setting. Songs like "Solace Sandwich" and the title track -- which features vocals from Lydia Liza's The Bedroom Sessions -- are heavily sampled, but beyond recogntion. Graham's pieces contain tones that were building blocks for composed sequences that were meticulously combed over.
Once he had his tracks composed, O'Brien sent them to Dean to add vocals and lyrics. She also did a complete 180 from her usual work as an acoustic singer-songwriter, and stretched her creative muscles as a musician.
"When Graham sent me the music, I would listen through and write down words and thoughts that the music would elicit," she says. "Some of the lyrics went back to the intriguing track names that Graham had given them. I would go back to him with my ideas, but nothing was ever finished."
"Molly's lyrics seemed more a collective aesthetic than straight up narrative or literal," Graham adds. That aesthetic created the shoe-gaze quality the duo was going for. The tracks on The Box Borealis live in that deep space between consciousness and sleep; they're not so much an idea, but rather a feeling.
The duo's ability to move outside of their realm of comfort was due to them letting go of any inhibitions surrounding Moon and Pollution. Graham brings up the sense of fearlessness that children have. That lack of fear allows them to move into different realms of creativity, and the two were able to revisit that feeling on their new album.
Dean says, "If you go into something with an expectation or a picture of what you want it to look like, then you lost it." O'Brien elaborates, "You can't ask, 'Is someone gonna like this? Is it gonna sell?' When you start doing that, it's a good indication you're off track creatively. I lose all inspiration when I worry about what someone will think, and it will often end up in a bad place. Sure, there are always going to be cultural and external elements that affect you, and you don't want to be bound by failure. I try and stay away from that. You have to make the music that moves you. If there's something powerful that you're feeling, you have to trust it."
Moon and Pollution will release The Box Borealis via F I X at Icehouse on Saturday, January 31, 2015 with Damage Controller (Yvlisaker/Dosh/Lewis) and hosted by Joe Horton.
21+, $8 adv, $10 door, 11 p.m.
Purchase tickets here.
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