Moody, Hypnotically Shapeshifting Soundscapes from Itsnotyouitsme

by delarue

Guitarist Grey McMurray and violinist Caleb Burhans get around a lot in indie classical circles; one of their most intriguing projects is their ambient loopmusic duo itsnotyouitsme. The two play the album release show for their new one, This I, on Dec 10 at 7:30 at Subculture (Bleecker at Lafayette) on a doublebill with Brooklyn postrock band the Knells. Advance tix are $15 and highly recommended. You might not think that a band that makes such slow, quiet music would be exciting live, but they can be absolutely mesmerizing if you’re in the right mood.

Crooner Theo Bleckmann and bassist Skuli Sverisson join the murk on the new record, alhough their contributions are textural rather than solo-based, in keeping with the music’s overall mood. The whole thing is streaming at their Bandcamp page. The epic opening track, If the Ground Is Covered, Are We Still Outside? opens as a circling vortex, gently tremolo-picked guitar over low-register washes. The picture brightens, the web of textures grows and then recedes to wavelike figures that circle and echo back with an increasingly metallic, echoey pulse. It gradually coalesces into an enigmatically haunting anthem.

Things Past Are Pretty Now is a sardonic, over-the-shoulder look at nostalgia, its dirty guitar and surreal, processed, wordless vocals quickly ebbing back into gently shifting waves that take on a pointillistic glimmer as it winds out slowly. Long Tales of Short Lived Victories builds an enveloping ambience with gentle long-tone phrases from the violin, McMurray’s steady-handed tremolo-picking echoing in the distance, again shifting almost imperceptibly to a brooding, circling, anthemic loop.

The shortest track, Wrinkling Into a Beautiful and Broken World (a free download), moves from short, blippy phrases that sound like they’re being spun backwards out of a loop pedal to hypnotic ambience and then stormier sonics. The You Since Me is the most stripped-down piece, like a more warmly nocturnal, more acoustic Radiohead and one of the few places on the album where the individual voices are distinct. But even that doesn’t last, reverting to a spaceships-passing-in-the-night atmosphere. The final cut is titled Sometimes It’s Hard Being Alive Seeing Bright Stars in the Sky, a long, bittersweetly symphonic, dynamically shifting piece that gives the guitar more of a chance to cut through, plaintive and longing against wistful flickers and ominous deep-space drones.