ARTIST: Close Encounter
RELEASE: Lost Time
RELEASE DATE: 9th March 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Look Up Records
Bit of emotive jangle-pop, a bit of synth laced melody and a dash of reverb soaked guitar is an accurate summary of 'Lost Time' by Seattle-based 'Close Encounter', a neat and playful album that bounces between sun-soaked dream-pop and darker, thought provoking shoegaze with hints of unruly psych bubbling beneath the mix. Their previous release, an EP entitled 'First Light', was successfully reviewed by Primal Music, exploring similar territory that is traversed here, on 'Lost Time'. The band are made up of Bill Darksoft, Bobby Sydney & Cameron Lambert and the album had it's official release back on the 9th March 2018. You can buy/download it in full right now via closeencounterband.bandcamp.com
Lost Time by Close Encounter
The album opens with the title track, a neatly packaged introduction to the album and its core sounds: laid back guitar riffs, loose instrumentation and the soaring yet slightly filtered vocals. ‘Never By My Side’ repeats this in a similar fashion but in a more spectacular way: its one of the albums top tracks: things are slowed down and a more dense production is added to the mix, including synth. The sound of the song is that of tightly and well thought out jangle-pop, a genre that of late seems to be getting done over and over again. ‘New Era’ is also a fantastic song, but the mood seems a tad more downtrodden. The riffs are again both enjoyable and thought provoking, the drums keep the pace nicely, the bass and guitar meld together neatly, and the keyboard adds a beautiful background layering. ‘Dark Times’ continues this synth-pop sound, with a catchy sequenced-bass based chorus and one of the nicest vocal productions on the album.
‘Wonder Why’ aims for more of an alt-rock or post-punk feeling, and achieves it; especially with its guitar tone and drum beat. This switch up offers a nice break from the previous songs that have all retained a similar sound but still maintains the main elements of the band production and mixing wise. ‘Indefinite Hours’ returns to the laid back jangle-pop of previous songs, this time, however, things are mixed together so well that the band somehow manage to make it one of the albums best songs. ‘Thinking of You’ hints at the laziest set of lyrics on the album, and musically nothing much new is really going on since the previous tracks. And that’s the thing, from here on in, with a few exceptions, things begin to sound very very similar: some songs sound like previous tracks with different tempos or effects. This very fact makes the second half of the album feel like more of a slog than a laid back , enjoyable listen. ‘How Long?’ is perhaps the highlight of the second half: the keyboard lead chorus is catchy and enjoyable and the instrumentation and production make the whole thing even more interesting. ‘Cold Call’ begins interestingly, and credit should certainly be given to the drum track and detuned guitars, but overall, after a while, you’re left wondering what you’re listening to. ‘Echo’, while sounding more present and dense than a few of the previous tracks is also one that, with different tones and mixing could sound very similar to the first few tracks. ‘Transmissions’ fits well in the context of intermission based tracks, but never really adds anything substantial to the album as a whole.
'Close Encounter' are the sort of band that succeed in a few different ways: theres the live aspect, which, although I haven’t seen them live, I can imagine as being an enjoyable, laid back experience. Another way is the format of EP: a few songs that hold a type of sound: not too long, not too dense, and just an enjoyable amount of jangle-pop. The third way is putting them on in the background, and while I’m not going to get into the philosophy and credibility of ‘background’ music, I’ll say this: there is a kind of art form for being ‘good’ background music. 'Lost Time', therefore, is a good album… But it become a slightly tiring listen: the band does what they do well., but they do it a bit too much. That’s not too say this album is a bad listen, its perhaps just to say that in the format of a full length album, 'Close Encounter' slightly over stretch themselves. The song writing on the most notable songs is of a top notch, and in regards to the genre of jangle-pop, they are truly original. Similiarly, the performances, the mixing and the production are equally as fantastic, together on the best parts of the album, these elements combine to make a noteworthy statement through laidback sound.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cam Phillips is a writer and above all, a music lover, who seeks to gain experience through writing and listening. He is also an avid film viewer and art and literature junkie who enjoys creative writing. His most recent published work was featured on Baeble Music and Culture (USA), Sounds and Colours Magazine (Latin America, London), Easterndaze (Latvia) and the Australian based heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.
by Primal Music
RELEASE: First Light
RELEASE DATE:12th July 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Look Up Records
Smooth smooth smooth are the guitar tinkerings, strums and jazzy drums at the beginning of Seattle based dream-gaze band 'Close Encounter'. Their debut EP entitled 'First Light' is influenced and inspired by pysch-rock just as much as it is influenced and inspired by shoegaze, dream-pop and alt-rock. Across the EP, the band utilize the much more layed back and ‘soft-rock’ side of dream-pop and smooth trip-hop-esque soundscapes, equating to a relaxing and pleasant listening experience that is to often forfeited by other artists under the belief it tampers with ‘high artistry’. The band are made up of Bill Darksoft, Bobby Sydney, Cameron Lambert & Matt Conlen. 'First Light' is available to buy/download right now on various formats from closeencounterband.bandcamp.com
First Light by Close Encounter
'First Light' begins with ‘Lumina’, soft jazz-like drumming plays over the top of soothing guitar tinkering and the backing strum of another reverbed guitar. The vocals, when introduced, are as laidback as the music; creating a communal sense of freedom and loose-ness in the music. Altogether, it conjures into a beautiful and whimsically intelligent soft rock, dreamy ballad-ish tune… Only to be eclipsed by the track that follows it. That track is ‘Fade Away’ which instrumentally presents itself much more upbeat, and whose guitar passages are more weaving and involved than on ‘Lumina’. Lyrically, things seem as day-dreamy and soothing as ever, with a darker undertone of questioning the concept of wandering through things. It is too often easy for dream pop tracks to appear nostalgic and contemplative in their presentation of beauty and warmth, but 'Close Encounter' manages to capture that mood with a more interesting and engaging form of song writing. ‘See The Sun’ turns down the reverb and instead goes for a more alt-rock feel: while the drums pad away in the background, forming the structure of the song, a keyboard plays a fantastically catchy line of music before the band dive into a jangle pop inflused type of dream pop. Although there are exceptions, the lyrics on ‘See The Sun’ are somewhat weaker and sound more throw-away compared to on previous tracks. The second half of the track turns into more pysch-rock territory, maintaing the aforementioned upbeat feel.
Things stay as mellow ever on ‘Reappear’, an EP highlight complete with soaring vocals and melodic drumming. The song is also backed with what sounds like the ooze and breeze of a synthesizer, adding a whole other dimension to the track. If the previous tracks on First Light could be played at the beach while the sun set, ‘Reappear’ would be an applicable track to play on your way back from the beach; the cars roof recedes, the sun sets, hair flows; a kind of nostalgia-laced relief blows in the wind. ‘Tuff Time’ slows down things to a speed akin to the opener ‘Lumina’, drifting on the back of a neat bouncing cymbal performance by the drums and the distant strumminngs of the guitars. A small but extremely pleasurable solo sneaks its way into the song somehow as well. One of the only songs that sounds like a true album filler, or perhaps a B-Side kind of track, is the song ‘Halo’. While attempting to touch upon more slowed down psych elements explored previously on the EP, the band become background music in the most bland way, rendering the track less impressive than some of the other engaging yet relaxed gems on the EP. ‘Channels’ turns things more to an indie rock spectrum, and while crafting a nice and rhythmic tune, it sort of recedes into the background of the EP as a whole.
'First Light' has many beautiful and enjoyable qualities about it. And much in the same way as 'Pastel Coasts' music does, the thematic elements of deep and care-free yearning seem to loom around the bands music (in a good way.) There is an easy way to put it: this is beautiful music… And while the EPs second side becomes lacklustre at times in comparison to the first, it nevertheless shows a band that are well versed in crafting a tune, painting a picture and performing admirably together. These things are achieved swiftly through production, performance and sound.