My Milky Way Arms – My Milky Way Arms EP

My Milky Way Arms
My Milky Way Arms EP

My Milky Way Arms is a collaboration between Houston, Texas-based MilkMan and Tim2K. They formed the band in the summer of 2007 and recently released this self-titled, resplendent 5-song EP that gravitates towards colder climes in its sparkling, crystalline electronic sounds that evoke the remoteness and wonder of the Arctic, while retaining a human warmth that comes from the sighing, exultant vocals. All the songs luxuriate in a shimmering, expansive, sustained, melodic high produced by the distorted electronics and guitars and arcing skyward, harmonizing vocals that are layered into and expand upon pop-song structures.

The euphoria commences with “Magneto (Aahhh!!!)” which incorporates bashed cymbals, drum beat, sustained organ-like notes, bell tones, and vocals that recall Jonsi of Sigur Ros on the verse sections. The soft focus vocals are shadowed with curves of slow guitar and up-tempo cymbal tap, until the delightfully vibrant chorus of “Ahhhing” vocal harmonizing and loops of light, bright bell tones comes in. There is a blissfully fuzzed-out component to this song, as well as to all the other tracks on this EP, so that the vocals are half buried in the mix most of the time, going with the melodic flow of the song. The lyrics “So it begins. / The whole world sinks in.”, however, do rise to the surface amid a build up of drum beat, guitar, pelting synth notes, and vocals that take on a hint of melancholic longing by the end of the song.

The “verse, chorus, verse” pop-song structure of “Soft Alarm” is extended with multiple rounds of interchanging calm verses and upbeat chorus sections, contrasting sustained organ notes and a wobbly, drawn-out, bubbling sound with faster drum beat, smashed cymbals, and rapid bass line. There is a static-like background sound throughout the song that creates a thick texture against which light and hazily mellow vocals, bright xylophone notes, and jingling bells play out.

While this “Unbearable Lightness of Being” doesn’t star Daniel Day- Lewis or Juliette Binoche, it features a pop structure brightened by layers of shining bell tones and blissed-out “Ooohs” and “Ahhhs” on the chorus, a clacking wood beat, buzzing synth and flute-like notes, and a grinding, low-end bass line. Near the end of the song, high pitched, sustained electronic notes and three-stranded vocal “Ahhhs” highlight the main vocal line, lifting the song up to harmonizing heaven.

The standout “Sunshine” is true to its title, a glorious, diffuse, and dreamy number with a continuous burnished, heightened wash of sound, like certain Sigur Ros songs on a high, with just enough dissonance to cut the glimmering, sugary effect. Warped, heart-tugging synth notes vie for affection with a low-key, echoed, thumping beat, short-riff guitar notes, and runs of tinkling bell tones on the verses, then it’s all attenuated uplift with high register vocal “Ooohing” and a hollow, distorted jet engine guitar line swooping in amid dashing electronic blips and light bell notes.

Closer “All Awful Impossibilities” is more straightforward in tone and lyrics, but the vocals are still somewhat buried under a snowfall of sound. The vocals are sweet and high, like Jonsi of Sigur Ros, resting against delicate runs of several harpsichord-like notes that form a swirling pattern. The chorus builds up with cymbal bash and tap and a rapid beat with brightly flitting electronic blips and squelches forming a sonic undercurrent. The pace slows on the verses, with sing-talking vocals backed by angelic, wordless harmonies and a vividly strummed guitar line. The dynamics of this song fluctuate between tranquil verses that drift along with sweet vocals and agitated, electronic-based chorus before it all dissipates with the sound of burbling synth notes.