ARTIST: Close Encounter
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' 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.
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.