VIDEO PREMIERE: Tigue - Triangle

Will Shenton

There are few sounds better suited to the strange familiarity of dreams than Tigue's vibrant experimental percussion. Taken from the Brooklyn trio's forthcoming Strange Paradise, "Triangle" is a mesmerizing piece that feels at once recognizable and a little bit alien—all the usual pieces are there, but ripples at the margins hint at something curious just behind the curtain. Tigue's enthralling command of rhythm and texture propel the song forward with just enough off-kilter structure to keep you checking your peripherals.

Filmed in an old Brooklyn gymnasium by director Steven Reker, the accompanying video sees the band awash in fog and undulating distortion, attending to their instruments as if engaged in a serene ritual. It's fun to see musicians look so relaxed while playing something so complex, and the whole thing is shot through with Tigue's signature goofy quirks: they gaze longingly at the titular triangle, apparently an object of worship, and squish their faces in mock-religious fervor.

"Triangle" is simultaneously lighthearted and cerebral, casual and austere. It finds beauty in rhythm and repetition, and asks the listener to engage with sounds just at the edge of their comfort zone. That it can manage all that without taking itself too seriously is downright brilliant.

REVIEW: .michael. - Blustery Dreams Of Me Rendered Smiley Seeing You, Always

Laura Kerry

Our minds are good at filling in and creating meaning from what’s around us. Animation, for example, uses distinct frames with changing images that form fluid movements when we view them fast enough. Similarly, humans see animals in clouds and faces in food. Given the right stimuli, we make complete, vibrant pictures and stories.

In Blustery Dreams Of Me Rendered Smiley Seeing You, Always, .michael. makes a whole world from a clarinet and a guitar. A collaboration of Brooklyn musicians Winter Sorbeck and Michael Sachs—who on their Bandcamp page refer to themselves cryptically as Michael and Michael—the duo expands themes that they introduced in their 2015 debut, Home Is Where You Hang Your Heart Is. Perhaps it’s these kinds of evocative titles, or the handmade puppets on the cover of the new LP that recall Where the Wild Things Are, but .michael. begins to establish the dreamy, childlike magic of their music before the first notes play.

When they do play, those notes don’t disappoint. Blustery Dreams opens on “Never Come Back,” one of about half the songs on the album that include singing. In it, the vocals are delicate and unaffected, resembling the tender innocence of Sufjan Stevens as acoustic guitar and clarinet trade between melody and rhythm behind them. “I want to have a breezy outlook, drink lemonade / Climb that foggy mountain, plow right through those branches / Hold your hand,” they sing, ending the song on a sweet note after introducing an earlier lost love.

When .michael. includes vocals, the lyrics are often heavier than their sound suggests. “I’m really sorry that I made you fearful to the point of almost ruining my life,” they sing on “Tall in a Straight Line,” and “I’ve had a heartbreak for a while and I won’t be coming back for a while to this town,” in “Heartbreak.” From quiet combinations of voice and two instruments, .michael. weaves intricate folk and baroque-infused tales of sadness and glimmers of hope.

Even when they have no voices to carry the stories, .michael. paints vivid pictures. In songs such as “Tumbleweed of the Soul” and “Put Put,” the guitar and clarinet replace vocals, flitting around conversationally. With only two tools at their disposal, Sacks and Sorbeck cover a large swath of dynamic territory, sometimes squawking in anguish, flitting around nervously, or flowing romantically. In these moments, the listener hears an entire classical symphony in the spaces between the two instruments. The artists emphasize that leap with the only cover on the album, “One of Five,” which reimagines the first of Stravinsky’s series of piano duets, “Five Easy Pieces.”

Between folk songs and neoclassic covers, .michael. creates something that’s entirely their own. And throughout Blustery Dreams, they remind us of that with songs that are addressed to themselves—“Sorry Michael,” “Michael Doesn’t Remember,” and “Namaste, Mike.” Sometimes, the album feels like stepping into someone else’s dream, an intimate and disorienting exercise that leaves us with only hints and fragments of the whole. As is the natural progression of disparate parts, though, the dream eventually takes beautiful and cohesive shape.