May 2, 2008

Alaska In Winter - Dance Party In The Balkans

Artist:Alaska In Winter
Album: Dance Party In The Balkans
Year: 2007
Country:United States

Alaska in Winte
r came about when art student Brandon Bethancourt spent a semester recording music in an isolated cabin on the south coast of Alaska. Upon arrival back in New Mexico, he teamed up with Zach Condon of Beirut, Heather Trost of A Hack And A Hacksaw (a Neutral Milk Hotel side-project), and Rosina Roybal (who played viola in the Kanye West symphony), and thus finished the album Dance Party in the Balkans.Brandon takes much of his influence from all his early years of growing up in the (American) South West, immersed in the musical low-rider culture of Santa Fe, New Mexico, as well as a slight Arabian influence on the part of his parents and their Byzantine church music.

a wonderous mix of lush instrumentation, electronica and understated vocal harmonies

"The main man behind the Alaska In Winter project is Albuquerque, New Mexico native Brandon Bethancourt, who decided to take his laptop and spend an isolated winter recording in a log cabin in Alaska, he then got together with a number of musicians including the acclaimed duo of Zach Condon (Beirut) and Heather Trost (A Hawk And A Hacksaw) to pepper his musicial visions and complete this evocative album.
Dance In The Balkans is a joy to hear from start to finish, each and every track helps your mind create vast landscapes of stunning imagery, the music takes you on a journey of discovery without you ever having to leave the comfort of your own home, the impressive instrumentation and beautiful vocals help form a true aural and visionary delight.
The opening track on here, The Homeless And The Hummingbirds sets the tone rather wonderfully, it begins with a gorgeous slice of muted trumpet and a lightly tinkered piano before branching into a mesmeric work of electronic beauty complete with understated vocal harmonies and laidback throbbing bass. From the opening few bars the music captivates the listener and from here on in Alaska in Winter never let go.
Your Red Dress (Wedding Song At Cemetery follows directly on, continuing the grove that Brandon has set, out only this time he adds a few vocal treatments to the mix drawing the listener further into his musical landscape.
The Beautiful Burial Flowers We Will Never See somehow manages to better all that proceeds, it's a beautiful yet mournful piece that opens with strings before taking in wordless vocal harmonies, crashing cymbals and a brief blast of that lone trumpet, the track invokes images of sollutide and remorse and yet somehow still manages to be uplifting in a strange way.
Elsewhere Brandon employs a combination of barely audible and choral vocals, majestic instrumentals and bubbling electronica to further entrance the listener, the title track once again employs those epic trumpets, combining them with harder beats and soulful, uplifting vocals. Whilst Harmonijak mixes an isolated piano with what sounds like an accordian, a crashing cymbal and a haunting vocal wail that urges the listener to block out any outside interference, plug in their headphones and immerse themselves into the sounds of Alaska In Winter."(


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