Blusom – The Fundamental Drift EP / The Metropolitan

Blusom
The Fundamental Drift EP / The Metropolitan

Blusom is a strange band. The duo of Mike Behrenhausen and Jme White never intended their first album, Go Slowly All the Way Round the Outside for release, but they followed it up with not one but two releases. The Fundamental Drift is an EP available only online (check iTunes), leaving The Metropolitan to be, essentially, the band’s first real album. That said, the release is as carefully created and produced as any band with 10-plus years of experience. It’s a band that is quite clear about its place, even if that place won’t be obvious to the listener.

That’s because the music Behrenhausen and White make is pop on the surface but experimental at the foundation. Multi-instrumentalist White provides the experimental backdrop, using a mixture of modulated acoustic instrumentation, field recordings, mostly digital percussion, and some creative recording techniques. Behrenhausen provides the pop structure, giving the songs a light tone and gentle flow. The result is sometimes hit-or-miss, but it’s always instrumentally gorgeous and immaculate in its experimental production.

On The Fundamental Drift, the opening “American Walkabout” is so beautiful it’s almost startling on each listen. The guitar is echoed beautifully, making it sound almost classical in style, and the layering of vocals gives the song a rich, luxurious tapestry. “The Convincer” continues with a quiet, laid-back tone, possessing a more heartfelt and emotional quality while still draped in a kind of cold, distant production. That classical-style guitar comes back on the strange, electronic “Splendid Candor,” which makes creative use of repetition and electronic bleeps and swirls, even mixing the vocals into screams throughout its mid-paced flow. “Astronaut” is back to the subtle, mid-paced pop song, sweet in its light but more prominent percussion, soft acoustic guitar, and layered vocals. Just skip the closing “I Will Send Banshees in to Seduce You,” which is an all-electronic mix of sounds and beats and someone complaining about the noise over an answering machine message.

The Metropolitan starts with the much more up-beat and poppy “Midnights and Mornings,” a fun romp that uses some great, Postal Service-like rhythms and percussion. Most of the songs follow this pattern. “The Ticks: Tick, Tick” is more pleasantly poppy, “Mayday” is quiet and sparse, and “With Panthers and Tigers as Pilots” is decidedly spacey at under a minute, leading into the lovely, classical-sounding “Carnival.” “Versus Nightclubbing” is almost danceable, with its upbeat beats and catchy samples, and “No Rivers, No Lips” is a muddled mess of noise akin to the aforementioned “I Will Send Banshees.” But none of these songs is simple. Just listen to the production choices made, the echoes or layering, the electronic sounds that dominate a song or drift quietly in the background. That’s what makes this band special.

For its prettier tone, The Fundamental Drift may be my favorite of these two releases, simply because of the beauty of the acoustic guitars and mid-tempo pace, even if it’s incohesive as most EPs tend to be. The Metropolitan is no slouch, however, and it’s far more cohesive. Both require multiple listens to truly appreciate, and that’s a sign that there’s so much here to appreciate. Very nice stuff from a band with a truly unique sound.