Phantogram Preps a Mysterious Missive


Most photogenic outfit we’ve seen
all week in fact..


By Blurt


En route
next February is the debut from one of indiepop’s hottest young prospects. They’re
called Phantogram – described by their new handlers, the good folks of Barsuk
Records, as “electronic loops, hip-hop beats, shoegaze, soul, pop” – and they
don’t live and work in a major urban center, but rather cals the town of Saratoga Springs, NY
(population 26,186) home.  Despite the cultural influence of local Skidmore College
(where fellow beat-experimenters Ratatat formed) and a relatively small scene
of adventurous musicians and listeners, Saratoga
isn’t exactly teeming with fans of J. Dilla, My Bloody Valentine or Serge


But Josh
Carter and Sarah Barthel, the duo that make up Phantogram and who grew up in
the even smaller nearby municipality
of Greenwich, have flourished in Saratoga. In fact,
the town itself isn’t rural enough for their taste – they drive almost every
day another 45 minutes into upstate farmland to a barn they call Harmony
Lodge to write and record. Serving as their homemade studio/practice
space/think-tank/bat-cave, the barn is equipped with various samplers, tapes,
records, synths, drums, and both percussive and stringed instruments. It’s
there that Phantogram allows their natural surroundings and metropolitan
influences to meld together creating beautiful, beat-driven dreamlike pop


The band
even references dreams when describing both the lyrics and sonics of their own
music, and the process of making it: “We ran across a description of dreams
somewhere that used the phrase ‘eyelid movies’ – and it really struck us both
as something that fit our music,” notes Barthel, while Carter explains further:
“Daydreams, the spots you see moving around when your eyes are closed tight,
and the shapes you see in the world – those are the kinds of things we want to
surface in your mind when you hear a Phantogram song.”


Hard to say
from song to song whether the dreams are entirely pleasant or nightmarish
(there tends to be a bleak undercurrent of loneliness and isolation in much of
the band’s work, counter-balanced by bright moments of swagger and joy), but
this music is certainly vivid and exciting – springing as it does from an
unpredictable mix of technological and organic roots.





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