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SMALL BLACK

Small Black’s third full length release, written and recorded at their Brooklyn home studio, nicknamed 222, showcasing a band still evolving and embracing the unpredictable.

After a year of recording the band enlisted mixer Nicholas Vernhes (War On Drugs, Deerhunter) of Rare Book Room Studio to help complete the record.

‘Best Blues’ finds the band in their sweet spot: the smoky intersection of considered and vulnerable songwriting and loose, almost nonchalant ambience. The addition of piano flourishes, trumpet (Darby Cicci of The Antlers), hidden acoustic guitars and Kaede Ford’s ethereal vocals provide new dimensions to the band’s already expansive sonic palette.

Cut-to-the-chase rippers ‘Back At Belle’s’ and ‘Checkpoints’ embody and build on the group’s signature gritty yet focused electronic sound. While more pastoral tracks such as ‘Between Leos’ and ‘XX Century’ - skeletally based on recorded improvisations - find the band painting a more nuanced, assured aural portrait. The repeating of the line “twentieth century” on closer ‘XX Century’ serves as a coda for the album, offering a simple summation of what ‘Best Blues’ intent has been from the opening Casio stab: an attempt to re-examine the past but also one to let it go.

“Another sparkling gem of widescreen, starry-eyed synthpop from a band who’ve been crafting such gems for years.” - Stereogum

TRACK LISTING

Personal Best
No One Wants It To Happen To You
Boys Life
The Closer I Look
Big Ideas, Pt. 2
Back At Belle’s
Between Leos
Checkpoints
Smoke Around The Bend
XX Century

Small Black

Real People

    Small Black’s ‘Real People’ mini album follows the band’s 2013 critically acclaimed album, ‘Limits Of Desire’.

    Sonically, the New York band continue with the pristine electronics they mastered on their last full length and features guest vocals from Frankie Rose on two of the five tracks.

    The title track drew inspiration from one of our generation’s greatest folk heroes, Colton Harris- Moore aka The Barefoot Bandit.

    Small Black

    Limits Of Desire

      ‘Limits Of Desire’ is Small Black’s most accomplished album yet. It’s a crystalline realization of a sound they’ve been building toward since their self-titled EP in 2009.

      Now a full-time four piece, the band have moved way beyond the hazy home recorded sound of their previous releases toward a full-fledged, but still self-produced, clear approach. Where 2010’s ‘New Chain’ was a lesson in maximalist pop, ‘Limits Of Desire’ finds the band trimming their sound to the essentials, yet hitting new and unexpected heights, with the addition of live drums, electric guitar and trumpet to the existing Small Black palette.

      Tonally the songs sweep and glide over lush keys, bolstered by lyrics that illustrate the semi-abstract moments of lost opportunities and misread signs, hinted at by the cover image. The title track whirls softly, and channels luminaries Tears For Fears and The Blue Nile.

      ‘Free At Dawn’ and ‘No Stranger’ do what fans have come to love Small Black for, only better. They’re smart pop bangers tinged with a specific brand of melancholy that slowly build to night-affirming climaxes, while ‘Breathless’ ups the tempo, over synth stabs with lyrics that tackle apathy and uncertainty with catchy grace.

      The band build on a rich history of synth pop by making a thoroughly modern album, on both the front and back end. One that seeks out cohesion, connection and calm in a world that won’t sit still. ‘Limits Of Desire’ doesn’t attempt to provide any solutions, but coming to terms with not finding the answers feels infinitely more fruitful.

      Small Black

      New Chain

        "New Chain" is the debut long-player from New York's Small Black. Richly coloured and thickly layered, it is an absorbing, eclectic and obsessive body of work. The Brooklyn group have succeeded in melting together locked and popped drum-shudder, gauzy spirographic synths and subtly contagious, half-remembered melody into ebullient bursts of evocative, subliminal and thoroughly modern pop. The songs are equally informed by the rhythmic bounce and stylistic swagger of more left-leaning contemporary radio rap and R'n'B as it is the submerged kaleidoscopic swirl of the early 4AD dream factory.

        Formed at the tail-end of 2008 as a bedroom recording project, Small Black first made waves with their eponymous debut EP. Recorded in the attic of singer Josh Kolenik's uncle's remote Long Island beach-house/surfboard workshop, it served as an ideal introduction to the group with its pulsing patchwork synths and addictive, stay-gold hooks that seemed to unfurl themselves gradually over repeated listens. Slightly more immediate and polished than its predecessor, Small Black's new album "New Chain" remains a continuation of this contrasting ethos - a delirious smudging of the lines between melancholy and nostalgia, tension and celebration, unabashed pop music and experimentation. 'It's always been a question for us', explains keyboardist/songwriter Ryan Heyner, 'of how much to push it, how much to reveal. I find a lot of the best music creeps up on you'.

        "New Chain" was predominantly written, recorded and fully realized in the seclusion of sleepy, suburban Delaware, where bassist/songwriter Juan Pieczanski spent his childhood summers., and then mixed by Nicolas Vernhes (Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors) at his Rare Book Room studio in New York City. The group spent the hours in Delaware as Kolenik says 'trying to take the excitement and stimulus of NYC to a place far from distractions, where it could be organized properly'. The effect of the transposition between city life and the isolation could explain the way the record's full-blown party jams are tempered with weirder moments of longing and enigma, and conversely, how its more discordant, foggy moments conceal huge moments of melody.

        A thinker's party record? A party-hardy thinker's record? Not sure. All we know is that New Chain is one of the most involved, intriguing and effortlessly human collections of organic pop music you're likely to hear this or any other year.



        STAFF COMMENTS

        Darryl says: Evoking the dreamy pop delights of the 4AD label back catalogue this is an effortlessly beautiful and sumptuously rich album.

        Small Black

        Small Black

          The winter of 2008/2009 found old friends Ryan Heyner and Josh Kolenik holed up in the attic of Uncle Matt's Long Island home. Those cold weekend days saw Small Black drinking Crystal Light, watching Waterworld, and plugging away on their casios and samplers, while Kolenik's uncle shaped surfboards in the basement.

          After months of thawing out, the band emerged with one of 2009's catchiest debut releases. "The Small Black EP", as it is called, melds strange beats, dreamy synths, tape hiss and laid-back melodies into pop jams. Teaming up with longtime collaborators Juan Pieczanski and Jeff Curtin, the band then fleshed out their bedroom sound, combining both live and sampled drums, live bass, keyboards and samplers for their live performance.

          Described by Pitchfork as 'absurdly addictive' and 'soul-stirring', the band self released the EP via their own imprint CassClub in October 2009, along with a documentary-style music video for "Despicable Dogs", featuring Uncle Matt. They quickly followed it up with a UK single for "Despicable Dogs" (on Transparent) and a split 7-inch with like-minded artist Washed Out (on Lovepump United). Now 2010 sees Small Black teaming up with Jagjaguwar for a deluxe re-mastered release of their debut EP with two extra songs added, "Kings Of Animals" and "Baby Bird Pt. 2".




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