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High Places at Space 15 Twenty: Saturday September 10th, 2011

On Saturday night, High Places was opening for Liars at Space 15 Twenty, and the electronic duo from Los Angeles via Brooklyn, sculpted their urban beats with ease and inventiveness for a little less than an hour.

I hadn’t any experience with their music before, and I missed the beginning of their set (I did not know there was a band opening, plus parking in this part of LA on a Saturday night is quite tricky), but I caught them when they were concentrated on their craft, both handling a part of their unique sound creation.

They produced a sort of naked music with simple melodies just carried out by Mary Pearson’s echoing and pure voice and these electronically looped beats which could turned into straight-forward dance rhythms.

Although the beats were computerized, Rob Barber was managing to maintain them very human, organic even earthly as they sometimes sounded fat or even watery while Mary’s distant but very present voice was floating above all this.

Barber was drumming on what seemed to be an electronic drum pad, literally keeping hands on the whole process, and producing semi tribal, almost tropical sounds at times, alternating with a rare guitar, bringing a light touch here and there.

But there was effectively something difficult to describe in their syncopated grooves as if some sounds were coming from something else than regular instruments, and I read somewhere they also use the manipulation of household objects in their compositions. While she was singing, Mary was manipulating her vocals (may be) or the beats, using the mixer table she had in front of her at the top of her keyboard.

It was not exactly cheerful music, not even catchy, and the atmosphere was a little sad and melancholic, but never heavy or depressive and creating a certain desolation all decorated by pretty sounds and ethereal vocals. Both of them were really absorbed by their own beats, keeping a very serious attitude, and only smiling between the songs when Mary was thanking the crowd.

They are preparing to release a new album, and they have recently relocated to Los Angeles,… yes, believe it or not they left New York and chose LA!

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