Phantogram Release EP; Continue to Perfect Their Earth-Shaking Sound
In a barn in upstate New York, they’ve figured out how to catch lightning in a bottle. Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter―mad scientists in their own right―concoct music from raw electricity at a remote location they call the “Harmony Lodge.” There, everything falls into place: electronic rhythms, static synths, and vocals sharp as a razor’s edge. All of these make a sound that can only be described as Phantogram, who coincidentally, is our Artist of the Week.
A phantogram is a two dimensional image that appears 3D; the same can be said for the group’s music. Even in stereo, Phantogram’s sound surrounds, enveloping you in a chaotic mix of genre. The duo’s catalog is still light, though―a studio album in 2009, and a few EPs, the most recent of which was released last month.
With their latest self-titled release, Phantogram hopes to add another notch to their busy year. After showing some flexibility by contributing to albums by The Flaming Lips and Big Boi, the group offers to keep fans entertained as they place the finishing touches on their planned LP, Voices.
Standouts from the EP include “Black Out Days” and “Celebrate Nothing,” which feature the stuttering beats and tension build-up that make their past material so enjoyable. Phantogram seem to be taking their time on a more proper release, however, yet the longer they wait, the more the anticipation grows. There’s a palpable buzz mounting for a breakout; it coincides with the bubbling pressure behind every drop in their music. Although the two share vocals, there’s nothing quite like when Sarah lures the listener’s attention with delicate seduction, only to be followed by a powerful thud of bass.
Phantogram continue to tighten-up, playing the first shows of a tour that brings them across the U.S. They add a few supporting members on drums, keys, and guitar to fatten up their sound and rattle the chest cavities of adoring fans. Their live sound further emphasizes the beats that carry along before collapsing in on themselves; it’s the gloomy yet electrifying feeling of being outside just before a storm rolls in.
It’s rare to possess the uncanny ability to produce music with wide appeal, and still push the limits of genre, yet Phantogram make it look easy. As they continue to make strides toward mass success, the group perfects their infectious trip-hop sound. “I think our songs are about love and hope and life and existence and death,” says Sarah Barthel. Instead of dismissing that as, well, nearly every topic that matters, you must first hear their music. Instantly, you’ll understand what she means.
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Article by Nicolas White