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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
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Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
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The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Fat Possum
Praveen & Benoit
Songs Spun Simla
Music Related

Rating: 7.5/10 ?

September 11, 2008
Though two years of cross-country collaboration produced only six tracks clocking in at barely 24 minutes, Brooklyn's Praveen Sharma & Portland-based Benoit Pioulard have still cut a sizeable swath of electronic bliss on Songs Spun Simla.

The two artists, whose musical pedigree boasts work on esteemed labels such as Kranky and Moodgadget, rarely met before (or during) Songs Spun Simla's recording, yet each admired the other's work from afar. The sonic kinship thus explains the harmonious feel of the record, which is an amalgam of Sharma's sequencing tricks and field recordings coupled with Pioulard's breathless, haunting vocals and instrumentation.

Opening track "The Tunnel is Still There," with its laid-back monologue, from Sharma's relative Pradeep, clashing with boisterous chatter and noise in the background, could've been recorded with the artist's Minidisk during his sojourn to his native India. This ambiguous intro yet somehow seamlessly flows into "Death as a Man," which begins as a scattered, alluring showcase of skittering textures, fuzzy ambience, acoustic guitar and piano before it's reined in by Pioulard's delicate, distant vocals.

While an organic/synthetic mind-meld like this could have the potential to backfire at the whims of overindulgence, Sharma and Pioulard erase such doubts with tracks like the hypnotic, Four Tet-like "To Scale." Filled with shuffling percussion, keyboard swells, campfire string-picking and kitchen-sink sounds, the track is dense, but not enough to be suffocating. Even if so, "Embers" calmly follows up the proceedings with Pioulard's half-crooning/half-chanting nature samples and strains of accordion while "1991" coasts in a sea of soothing white noise and acoustic elements.

At this rate, you might be expecting a slow, tepid ending to the affair with the closing "Chiaroscuro." But Praveen & Benoit have other plans; the three-minute outro turns another light, guitar-driven ditty into a growing stampede of drums and an eerie, dark chorus that wouldn't be out of place in a tribal ritual.

Lush in nature and compact in size, Songs Spun Simla is an impressive outing from this pair of bi-coastal producers. It might bear similarities to the recordings of Kieran Hebden, Boards of Canada and even the Album Leaf, but its moments of originality undoubtedly make Songs Spun Simla deserving of a follow-up.

Reviewed by Kiran Aditham
When not contributing to LAS and other music/film publications, Kiran Aditham toils away during the day in Manhattan as a reporter for an advertising magazine…though he’d rather not say which one.

See other reviews by Kiran Aditham



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