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To Where the Wild Things Are [Slipcase] *


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Performer Notes
  • Since they started releasing music in 2010, the Swedish duo of Marleen Nilsson and Anders Hansson, better known as Death and Vanilla, have been dedicated to searching for the point where the Zombies and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop intersect, or alternately, to filling the gaping hole where Broadcast and Stereolab used to operate so magically. Like Broadcast and Stereolab, Death and Vanilla are interested in creating music that sounds both truly futuristic and at the same time rooted in the past's idea of what the future could sound like, and also like those two groups, Death and Vanilla have made some pretty great albums -- 2015's To Where the Wild Things Are being their best so far. Recorded in their rehearsal space using just one microphone, which they salvaged from a flea market, the album is warm and enveloping, with sugar-sweet melodies, enough keyboards to keep Rick Wakeman occupied, and a peaceful, pristine beauty that makes it perfect background music for any occasion that calls for quiet and calm. Nilsson and Hansson prove to be experts at layering sounds without the mix being overloaded; even when there are synths humming, voices cooing, and guitars chiming, everything sounds clear and crisp. Amazing that they only used one microphone to record it all. While the sound they capture and transmit is always impressive, they never sacrifice the power of the songs in pursuit of aural perfection. Along with the neo-psych explorations that make up the bulk of the album in delightful fashion, the band also takes side trips into bouncy Beach Boys territory on "Time Travel," near ambient balladry with "Shadow and Shape" and the album-closing epic "Something Unknown You Need to Know," and spooky Krautrock on "The Hidden Reverse," which sounds like a chase scene from a '70s art-house horror film. The dreamily sweet "California Owls" even sounds like a hit single from a different time and place. No matter what kind of mood or feel the music creates, Nilsson's vocals are a perfect match, always bringing a self-possessed beauty and strength that match the music the duo creates. The album is a true meeting of mood, melody, and sound that any of the bands Death and Vanilla so clearly take inspiration from would be proud to call one of theirs. ~ Tim Sendra
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