New York’s High Places, the duo of Rob Barber and Mary Pearson, create a busy, so busy sound that burbles, bubbles, squeaks, shifts, saws, sighs, creaks and hums. It’s not an urban, cluttered, claustrophobic busy though — it’s like a teapot whistling in a hall of mirrors cluttered with cardboard jungle scenery and mountains of costume jewelry. In fact, with sonics that are informed equally by avant-garde drone, world music exoticism and bighearted lullabies, sometimes High Places remind this reviewer of a happier and more untroubled Dead Can Dance. (Along with Eno’s Another Green World and, dunno, Sesame Street.) High Places are much less burdened with time and sadness (not to mention gothic finery) than DCD, although they both share an intoxication with sound in all its geographic variety and an insular language and sly smile betwixt the two member principals.
High Places fearlessly straddles the high-tech and homemade, with clear tones, clicks and shuffles sounding like they are created by an endless succession of music boxes, homemade drum machines, Ataris and samplers all latched together with patch chords and brightly colored wires. Excitingly, it’s almost impossible to pick out the source sounds from which this music is made. Rain stick or drum machine? Synthesizer or wind chime? The exception, of course, are the pure, sonorous tones of singer Pearson. At just over a half-hour you’re going to miss this album when it’s gone. Except you might be too busy grinning to notice.
Thrill Jockey: www.thrilljockey.com