“We all grew up listening to everything from Harry Partch to Radiohead to avant garde jazz to medieval music and I studied composition, played in weird rock bands, and also played with Anthony Braxton.”
Wes alum Asa Horvitz ’10, notably of Duchampion fame, is delivering musical tastiness in the form of recent project Point Reyes, a Brooklyn-based outfit that you may remember from a spring semester Eclectic set opening for Nat Baldwin. Earlier this semester Point Reyes just released Golden—a fun and quirky album that feels like it’s reminiscent of Duchampion but is much much more—on Big School Records.
This band is hard for me to describe. Not in the “we don’t really like to classify ourselves in a genre” kind, but in the way where I have to put in actual work to think of the words to describe it. They’re a complex indie rock band that isn’t afraid to dive into more complicated musical forms, and they experiment with things like vocal timbres. Plus, the interesting instrumentation of vocals, guitar, cello, percussion, drums, and vibraphone makes for beautiful and unexpected sound combinations. As TVD Cleveland wrote, “This band is an entity unto itself, enveloping its listeners in orchestrations comprising expansive vibraphone, thick bass, luscious cello, guitar, and eerie vocals that weave stories filled with whimsy.“
Check out more, including my favorite track “Redesert,” after the break.
The emotional background and depth of the album feels too deep for me to properly write about it, so here’s a link to a letter that Asa wrote to music tumblr YVYNYL. If you don’t want to read that—which I highly encourage you to—I can tell you this much. Much of the emotional background to the album, which is easy to feel after listening through it a couple of times, is due to the early death of one of Asa’s childhood friends, Dominic. Asa tells of him taking his friend to the beach shortly before he died of a stroke at the age of 23 and how that loss helped shape the album.
I’ve listened through the album a lot of times trying to get a handle on what to say, but after reading that I could feel everything a little bit better. The music has a sort of youthful tenderness to it that accompanies an strange and intense energy. Listening to the album, it feels like I can hear the contemplation that went into the melodies; the lyrics Asa writes are often honest, sometimes to the point where I feel like I’m listening in on a private conversation. All of this combined with melodies that dart and shift around endlessly makes Golden a unique work.
The band’s main sound is clearly its own, resisting electronics except for the electronic guitar. The melodies go in and out of experimental realms. Asa occasionally plays with the placing of his words, landing on the stressed parts of the word on offbeats and vise versa, lending to his melodies a twisting and turning of where the phrases begin and end. The other vocalist casually enter into harmonies that whisper Dirty Projectors, like in the song “Kaddish,” but by surrounding themselves with vibraphone and cello and a lesser emphasis on guitar, they create a totally different atmosphere. Some of the best parts of the album are the parts where the unexpected happen. In the song “vrag.dk”, the band launches from a casual vibraphone/guitar/cello/percussion setting fit for a coffee house into a strange cello solo with vocal backgrounds, creating a new atmosphere in which they seem to be reaching out searching for what to say. From there, a powerful guitar riffs, introducing a new sonic space complete with a simple and strong drum beat and shaker, and who could say they have had enough shaker? Not this guy.
My writing cannot possibly be enough to express the album’s full strengths so listen to it, gauge it for yourself, and possibly purchase it, because it’s good music. Or at least because I like it. And so does Wesleying’s own A-Batte, who made it his first vinyl purchase ever:
Best vibraphone album of all time. Trust me; I’m yet to finish it or listen to any other “vibraphone albums”. is.gd/NYIF8g
— The Dogtooth (@thedogtooth) September 20, 2012