Hailing from Brooklyn and armed with tape recorder and mic, High Places, aka Mary Pearson and Rob Barber, are gently pushing the frontiers of avant-pop.
Having met at a Death set show through a mutual friend, the pair formed an instant connection and were soon planning on taking their solo projects on tour together – but fate intervened. “We ended up blending two of our songs to form ‘Sandy Feat,’ and we just kept going as one musical unit from then on.”
Describing their music as “scrapbook pop”, Rob cites influences such as sound collectors, field recordings, and early shoestring budget recordings of rap, dancehall, house, psychedelic, hardcore and folk music. Sharing a magpie sensibility with the early practitioners of musique concrete, High Places feed on the frantic bustle of New York, seeking to reflect the myriad of noises that envelop us on a daily basis, investing their three-minute songs with their own take on aural bricolage. “We make every aspect of the music at home,” explains Mary, “so wayward sounds from traffic or the cats or someone coughing always seem to find their way into the recordings. I think that makes the recordings sound more human.”
High Places’ lo-fi approach is reminiscent of the experimental palettes of Caribou or Animal Collective, albeit with a stranger, more exotic impulse – particularly evident in tracks like ‘Golden’, with its treated steel pans, or the stand-out `Head Spins’, where Mary’s delicate vocals are absorbed into the other musical elements, oscillating between plonking fruity loops and scratchy keyboards. “We feel that it is important that the sounds we make have an inherently familiar and warm aura to them…a sort of dream vibe, where you feel you’ve been there before, yet you can’t quite make everything out.”
And their name? At the heart of the band is the need to recreate those vertigo-inducing moments of sublimity when boundaries become indistinguishable – “euphoria-inducing” says Mary. Or, as Rob puts it, “I like high places because that is where I feel safest and have the most perspective on my relationship to the world around me. I can see better.”