Alias & Tarsier
Plane That Draws a White Line Anticon
DJ Brendon “Alias” Whitney and vocalist Rona “Tarsier” Rapadas collaborate across a distance of more than 3,000 miles, but a listener would never know it from this intimate and delicately atmospheric EP.
Plane that Draws a White Line is the follow-up to the duo’s debut full-length album, Brookland/Oaklyn, which was released earlier this year and plays off the names of each artist’s hometown. The EP covers much the same ground as its predecessor—Alias’ instrumental trip-hop beats and glitchy production juxtaposed with Tarsier’s seductively soft and raspy vocals—with three new songs and six remixes.
The new “Sleep” and the revised “Dr. C” both capture the allure of this sonic alliance. The latter is remixed by Tarsier’s Brooklyn running mate, Healamonster, and combines a plucky electric guitar riff with piano, drum machine and effects; Healamonster subtly tweaks the original production, leaving Tarsier’s vagabond vocals (“I once was a wanderer like you…Believe me”) at the forefront. “Sleep” opens with a line from Alias’ fellow Anticon rapper Sole, and contrasts that with the Björk-ish ambiance of Tarsier’s near-lyrical hums.
It’s an EP, like the LP preceding it, that proves long-distance relationships can work. (Skylar Browning)
Alias & Tarsier play The Loft Monday, Sept. 25, at 10 PM. Astronautilus opens. $7.
It’s little surprise that Malcolm “Papa Mali” Welbourne, the New Orleans-based swamp-rock slide guitarist who sidled up to The Other Side’s stage last year, has a role in Mofro’s sophomore album. Throughout the sly, soulful refrains found on Lochloosa, and behind the earnest Southern angst of Mofro songwriter J.J. Grey, is amble space for Papa Mali’s slick fret work, making for the type of cozily humid union that goes great with gators and grits. Grey is a Florida storyteller whose lyrics cut to the seedier side of his home state. “How Junior Got His Head Put Out” couples a Bo Diddley beat with a wailing harmonica while recalling a drive-by shooting. “The Wrong Side” is a bluesy ballad that tells of where Grey grew up and how his childhood slipped away. “Dirtfloor-cracker” has a funk-filled tone that embraces the trashy imagery of his homeland: “Call me Dirtfloorcracker, but them words just fills me with pride.” Papa Mali’s guest appearance works wonders on three tracks, and Grey’s longtime collaborator Daryl Hance aptly handles the rest of the guitar work. Grey and Hance met, appropriately enough, 15 years ago working construction in Jacksonville. That fits because Lochloosa is a blue-collar effort, one saturated in sweat, covered in dirt, and reveling in the prospect of quittin’ time. (Skylar Browning) Mofro plays The Other Side Saturday, Sept. 23, at 10 PM. $10.
Listening closely to Hunter Gatherer is kind of like imagining yourself on a maritime adventure under starry skies, or galloping across African plains. The mostly instrumental EP synthesizes pliable melodies with drum and bass in a way that almost makes it as rich visually as it is aurally—and that makes sense, considering that the band often supplements its shows with synchronized original films of the artsy variety.
The vocals on Hunter Gatherer are mostly soft ahhings and oohings intoned in a manner that makes it sound like something is actually being said. It’s a little like catching a breeze-blown conversation on the verge of sleep or momentarily hearing a real word formed in the rustle of some leaves. In “Lawn Makers,” electronic chirping punctures the otherwise brooding pitch and reverberation. In “Corners,” the tone extends, then collapses and expands again for a sound like drops of rain falling into the ocean. However sentimental or mystical all that may sound, this EP’s strength is its nebulous harmonies, nailed down by small sonic details. It’s these layers that ignite the imagination and make Small Sails an adventure. (Erika Fredrickson)
Small Sails plays Betty’s Divine Thursday, Sept. 28, at 7:30 PM. Ethan Rose and Scott Kennedy open. $4.
vLarkin Grimm sounds nothing like a hipster indie artist from Rhode Island. An East Asian island priestess, maybe. An otherworldly gypsy folk singer, perhaps. If anything, this one-woman experiment in internationally flavored psychedelic mood music is definitely different.
At its best, Grimm’s debut CD is an intriguing mix of genres, generations and geographies showcasing her gorgeous voice. “Pigeon Food” and “One Hundred Men,” both featuring mandolin, have hints of Appalachian folk and The Be Good Tanyas harmonies but also sound like something by Portishead. “Going Out” is stripped down to a slow, tribal beat and Grimm’s trance-like singing: “He better be strong enough. He better be dark enough. He better be strange enough—for me.”
At Harpoon Baptism’s worst, however, this ambitious mix sounds more like the crazy voices in your head arguing with each other; the jumbled mumbling vocal warm-ups of “I Am Eating Your Deathly Dreams” should come with a straightjacket.
But the stranger turns shouldn’t deter adventurous listeners. Harpoon is full of aural wanderlust, and there’s plenty to explore here before Grimm releases her follow-up effort, due out next month. (Skylar Browning)
Larkin Grimm and Mike Tamburo play at Shakespeare & Co. Saturday, Sept. 23, at 6 PM. $4.