High Places – Original Colors
Let’s face it; summer is over. Everyone is wrapping up with extra layers, cranking up the dials of their thermostats and engaging in personal races against daylight to get home before darkness arrives. The changing of season seems decidedly appropriate for the release of the third album by High Places. There is a chill in the air and it goes by the name of Original Colors.
Spawning from the duo’s home studio in Los Angeles, Original Colors creates an alluringly cold environment that slowly reels it’s audience further into the blizzard of dark electronica. There are no significant parts to the music that demand your attention – all the individual sounds remain subtle and understated – however once carefully layered on top of one another the overall sound becomes ever-increasingly encapsulating.
Throughout the album there appears to be a sense of counteracting parts of the overall sound. The rigidness of the bass and percussion works against the spacey, dreamy vocals and synthesisers. At certain points the machinelike music sounds completely detached from Mary Pearson’s emphasised and haunting singing. It seems that High Places were equally as influenced by ambient soundscapes just as much as minimal techno for the making of Original Colors. The music takes its time.
The highlight of the album, from my point of view, comes right at the end. The penultimate track, ‘Twenty Seven’, is simply a reverberating chorus of spooky, (yet angelic) harmonised voices, which transports the listener into a peaceful cathedral setting. This works well to lull you into a false sense of security, which makes a more dramatic impact upon the arrival of ‘Altos Lugares’. The closing track ‘ups its game’ by catches you off-guard by increasing the pace and intensity of the music, leaving you with a awkward feeling when it finishes and you are left with silence.
On the whole I enjoyed Original Colors. I believe that it is especially enjoyed in the right environment. It can be as compelling as you allow it to be. However, the album is contingently humble to the ear and I understand that its lack of hunger for attention could easily not be appreciated in a party situation, even though it is technically dance music (if we were pigeonholing!).
The record is out now and the band plan to tour this autumn. Wrap up warm. Wear a scarf.