Like with a cake or a house of cards, too many layers results in collapse, and the eponymous album from Brooklyn-based duo High Places serves as a testament to the fact.
Though the teaming of a punk rocker and a bassoonist has potential, Robert Barber’s hardcore past seems to have dissipated. That leaves High Places merely rambling through a strange mix of sounds—chimes and bells, digitized waves and, at best guess, whale song. There’s promise here, if you like something like traditional Indian music meets Atari. But High Places tries too hard, moving beyond eclectic and into noisy.
Mary Pearson’s enchanting vocals carry the first minute-thirty of “Vision’s the First,” accented by a tribal beat straight off a National Geographic special. But the music quickly digresses. One measure of distortion stretches for 10, 15, 20 measures, dead-ending right back where the song began.
The album isn’t, however, without at least one highlight. “Namer” is pleasantly soft and melancholy. The layers gradually build, nearing the point of structural failure without actually crossing it.
High Places plays the Badlander Tuesday, Sept. 30, at 9 PM. Ponytails and Black Velvet Elvis open. $5.