Lost In The Trees

Lost In The Trees

When Lost In The Trees set out to record Past Life, their third album for ANTI-, they knew they needed a break with the past. Frontman Ari Picker looked to move beyond the themes of loss that fueled two emotional, densely personal collections of songs. Channeling the liberating happiness he felt in his young marriage into his method, he came up with a new approach to writing: "I wanted to reach out and grab the music rather than have it come from some internal place." On past releases Picker had used an expanded six-member band to render his carefully composed, classical-inflected songs, bringing them fully arranged to the studio for the band to perform. For the new album, the band was pared to a lean electronic-rock four-piece, and in this new configuration Lost In The Trees took to the road to workshop the songs that would become Past Life. Immediately, the new tracks evidence more than a band pared down; the arrangements are modern, spare, minimal, emphasizing groove and rhythm, blending the sonic architecture of 21st century electronic dance music, the austere emotion of the minimalist composers, and the sensual swerve of post-Bowie 80s pop.
Having crafted the songs to create a maximum impact in a live setting, the band made their next break with past practice, electing to work with an outside producer for the first time. Nicolas Vernhes, whose credits include breakthrough albums from Deerhunter, Dirty Projectors, Animal Collective, and Wild Nothing, endorsed the band's new minimal aesthetic, and the question in the studio became, "How much can we strip away" With an approach that forefronts beats and basslines, Vernhes and the band lift away the orchestral density of the previous albums – the emotional analog of Picker's intense lyrics – leaving a more direct framework of soul-inflected guitar lines, throbbing groove, and Picker's soaring vocal hooks.
Fans that came to the band lured by the lush classicism of All Alone In An Empty House and A Church That Fits Our Needs (the Wall Street Journal's album of the year in 2012) will not be disappointed. After all, the band are known for their unique orchestral sound, and Church, with its intense narrative of loss, drew lavish praise from all quarters, both as an "exquisite exercise in the seduction of melancholy" (Iowa Press-Citizen) and "a stirring blend of modest rusticity and urbane ambition" (New York Times). The haunting lyricism of Picker's voice and melodies has not diminished in the new sparer approach, but instead rises to the fore, bringing out that timeless quality of the melodies that is the common ground of both folk and pop music. This pop quality, buried but always present in previous efforts, shines on Past Life; not pop in any trivial, retro sense, but the yearning lilt of Harry Nilsson or Mark Hollis, that floating melodicism that Relix found so "achingly beautiful."
Picker, for one, is pleased to be moving on from the highly personal lyrics of the previous albums to more universal themes. He singles out "Glass Harp" from the new album, describing it as "a half awake song to my wife," adding that it may be "as much of a love song as I can write." On "Daunting Friend" Picker promises his companion "we'll float around the town," a cinematic image that recalls the romantic mysticism of Wings of Desire more than it does any past Lost In The Trees lyric. This new openness in Picker's imagist lyrics – loose, joyful, embracing – tends on Past Life toward meditations on what Picker describes as "recognizing impermanence," all rendered by Lost In The Trees' greatest instrument (perhaps overshadowed in the past by the violins and harps): Picker's profound tenor voice. The voice the New York Times called the "essential embodiment of vulnerability" becomes on Past Life the load-bearing wall – it's a burden this extraordinary instrument, and Picker, are more than ready to take on.

Acclaimed New York City-based singer-songwriter Doe Paoro discovered her true creative self in letting go of the idea of being a musician to heed an inner directive.

In a different guise, Paoro was known and respected within the NYC music scene as a soul singer with a modern spin. Though, during a period of personal reflection away from music in 2010, Paoro went to travel by herself for eight months, throughout Egypt, Greece and India. In India she unintentionally came across the Tibetan folk opera singing tradition, and, in a poetically ironic twist, became enamored with its expressive qualities. When she studied this music form from a Tibetan instructor, it reawakened and deepened her connection with the voice. It broke down her inner creative and emotional blockings and revealed fresh, intimate, and powerful modes of expression.

In 2012, she channeled this newfound musicality into her stunning DIY debut, Slow To Love. Paoro's homespun album has been praised by Stereogum, Noisey, Consequence Of Sound, The Village Voice and New York Magazine, among others. For her latest offering—an EP entitled Ink on the Walls—she and songwriting partner Adam Rhodes went to Wisconsin to work with the Bon Iver creative camp for her strongest and most fully realized release yet.

Ink on the Walls, which will precede Paoro's sophomore full-length, represents the creative breakthrough after the spiritual breakthrough. Much of Paoro's artistry is tied to ecological and humanitarian concerns, and the album benefited from the serenity of being recorded in November in bucolic Wisconsin during last year's first snow, and the joy of solitude found in Justin Vernon's April Base Studios with Bon Iver drummer S. Carey producing and Vernon guesting. Co-production and engineering came via BJ Burton (Volcano Choir, POLIÇA, The Love Language) who additionally mixed the EP.

Doe Paoro's highly personal approach to furthering the soul music lineage has garnered her comparisons with innovators such as D'Angelo, Lykke Li and James Blake. These redemptive and moody songs explore universal themes of love, loss, nature, and existentialism with bold vulnerability, smoldering, futuristic R&B elegance, and mesmerizing textured ambience.

The hauntingly gorgeous "Nobody" addresses the din of deflating voices we hear in our heads and sonically invoke the dizzying effect of this chatter with strategically placed effects-treated vocals poking in and out of the mix. The introspective "Nostalgia" was written with Peter Morén of the Swedish indie pop band Peter Bjorn and John, and it reflects this merger of talents. It patently unfolds from impactful deconstruction—moony ambience, a simple beat, and airy vocals—to synth pop bliss. "That song is about people getting lost in their past and repeating the same habits," Paoro reveals. The entrancing and eerie electro gospel of "Walking Backwards" puts forth a gripping snapshot of unbalance in humanity and nature. And the sweeping and uplifting electro-pop of "Hypotheticals" meditates on the futility of regret.

Reflecting on her path, Doe Paoro says: "I had the revelation that the second you give up ambitions and expectations, you make room to have it all." It's a transformative message that's connected with fans. "We're all dealing with a similar set of questions. Music speaks to our experience together."

Stranger Cat

Raised in the urban sprawl, Stranger Cat was born out of a respite in the wilderness. As most stories go, she was seeking a noiseless place for musing, but found instead a sentient beast stalking through the woods, be it animal, alien, or deity; she memorized its sound.

Stranger Cat is the new project from Cat Martino. Her penchant for loop effects was inspired by homebound isolation from a debilitating neuromuscular affliction several years ago that mysteriously could not be diagnosed. Isolated to her bedroom for the better part of a year, a simple microphone and loop pedal became her new choir. Now restored to health, she celebrates her freedom of movement by creating lush layers with voice, synthesizers, and electronics that gamut ethereal, soulful, and turbulent chaos, inspired by the body in motion.

Cat retreated from Brooklyn, NY to winter in the Sierra Foothills and wrote and recorded new songs. Simple melodies or beats morphed into powerful walls of sound to melt in through snowstorms, howling winds, or stark silence nestled by gargantuan oaks and the infinite starry dome.

Joined by co-collaborator Sven Britt for a week, they traded recording each other on casios, synths, guitars, drum machines, branches and spoons.

Often a cat would come to the door to listen, meowing to be let in. When it appeared daily they called it Stranger Cat, observing its alien supernatural powers, as she'd heard tell of the Foothills' history of UFO sightings and ghost haunts. One day they let Stranger Cat in. The plump feline ate all the kitty food and left.

The Brooklyn native was Sufjan Stevens' right hand woman for Age of Adz andAll Delighted People records and world tour, and will co-release a Flexi-Disc with Stevens on Joyful Noise Records Fall 2013 they co-wrote/produced. Cat sings on the new Son Lux record Lanterns, recorded/toured with Sharon Van Etten circa Epic, appeared with The Shins on SNL and Williamsburg Park, played in Passion Pit at Governor's Ball. She has opened tours in US or EU for Indians, Night Beds, Rufus Wainwright, Marissa Nadler, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Patrick Watson and more. She also really likes to jam and create with many of her brilliant creative friends you may never have heard of but will hopefully soon!

Martino has toured internationally, in support of Rufus Wainwright, RIDE frontman Mark Gardener, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and more. Cat has enjoyed singing with and/or organizing small choirs for local friends Sharon Van Etten, Sufjan Stevens, Joseph Arthur, & Swedish artists Anna Ternheim, Nina Persson (The Cardigans), A Camp, and Marit Bergman. Other musical conspirators have been found in multi-instrumentalist/Producer Jack Petruzzelli (Rufus Wainwright, Patti Smith), Ben Kalb (Regina Spektor), Nathan Larson (Angela McKluskey, Shudder to Think.), Matt Johnson (Jeff Buckley), and Joe & Robin Bennet (of Goldrush, Dusty and the Dreaming Spires Truckfest).

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