High Places, 03/07 – 09/07

Todd Burns

By Todd Burns

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

03/07 - 09/07

High Places

Mary Pearson and Rob Barber are Brooklyn-based duo High Places and 03/07 — 09/07, as the title suggests, collects the band's work from a six-month period in 2007. Some of it has been released on 7-inches and compilations, some of it is available on eMusic exclusively for the first time. All of it is eMusic Selects. The best description I've heard of the band's tunes? "Every national anthem going off at the same time in a bucket of water." Indeed, High Places ride that careful line between unadulterated anthem and a muddy effects-laden mess, emerging with discombobulating dubby masterpieces.

A Brooklyn-based duo and its discombobulating dubby masterpieces.

"Head Spins" bounces along on aquatic steel drums, good vibes and a melody built from samples drained almost completely of their source material. "Sandy Feat" is Beat Happening via King Tubby. Perhaps the most surprising moment is a commission that the group received from Pearson's mother. She asked the duo to write a song for the elementary school at which she teaches. "Jump In" doesn't have a lot of the murkiness that colors much of High Places output thus far. Instead, it nakedly showcases the bells, whistles, woodblocks and doodad's that the group buries underneath. It's a revelatory moment here — Pearson and Barber aren't just noiseniks having fun, they're first-rate pop songwriters.

With their short songs and inclination toward miniaturized releases, it's clear that High Places aren't big on mission statements. You could fairly say that 03/07 — 09/07 reflects what happens when a classically trained bassoonist heads out of the academy (Pearson) and a former hardcore kid gets into the noise scene (Barber). Sure, it's awfully specific and honest, but that's pretty much the charm of High Places. Jump in.