When most artists shoot for the stars, West Indian Girl makes
music that has the whole galaxy singing. The Californian sextet whose
sophomore release 4th And Wall on Milan Records runs the gamut
of esoteric and oceanic atmospherics tailored from scintillating synth
embers loosely scattered along meditative rhythms and harmonious vocals.
West Indian Girl balances the dance-vibed electronica of LCD Soundsystem
with the avant-pop complexion of The Arcade Fire. 4th And
Milan creates a sonic fantasy adventure like no other. Produced
by Illuminus, the album is the follow up to their self-titled
debut album from 2004.
Tracks like "To Die In LA," "Sofia," and "Solar
Eyes" orchestrate brightly lit utopian synth-tronics like Goldfrapp
with ruminating guitar effects and chanting vocal harmonies that are
therapeutically modulated. The upbeat tempo of "Blue Wave"
is engaging and vibrantly coruscating while the gentle flickering
psychedelics of "Indian Ocean" purvey a serenely melodic
symphony of acoustic and electronic tones. The exchange of male and
female vocals between lead singers Robert James and Mariqueen
Maandig is excellent. Mariqueen's vocal rises can reach past the
constellations with a pitch as startling and luminous as stardust,
and James' registers are as soothing and balmy as a lounging evening
Miami breeze. Drummer Mark Lewis and bassist Francis Ten
keep the rhythm sections firm while also making them charismatic,
and keyboardists Nathan Van Hala and Amy White play
ambient cascades that capture with the enchantment of a Valhalla-like
West Indian Girl provides some jazz-funk and embellished percussive
elements on "Up The Coast" and some country-laden acoustics
on "All My Friends" which adds an organic component to the
oceanic electronica textures. West Indian Girl is many things, none
of which can be mistaken for mundane. Songs like "Lost Children"
and "Get Up" offer percolating synth action and cyclical
trip-hop club beats. The acoustic-pop slopes on "Back To You"
resonate agreeably with the intercepting string arrangements and tambourine
and flute piping. The song "Rise From The Dead" is darker
in tone from the other tracks but equally as esoteric with lofty,
spacious vocals and blithesome synths reminiscent of Great Britain's
Taking their name from an intense strain of LSD, West Indian Girl's
music is a riveting fantasy adventure with consonance in its intricacies
and detailing. The title of the album, 4th And Wall is the
intersection in Los Angeles, California where West Indian Girl's recording
studio is situated, amidst the poverty and gloom that lies in the
underbelly of LA. The environment is completely different from the
atmospheres which the band plays on the album. Frontman Robert James,
who acted as Executive Producer on the album, tells in a press release,
"4th And Wall is our hidden sanctuary. It's in an old warehouse
surrounded by a humble community of homeless people living in cardboard
boxes and tents. They're our captive audience, listening to us every
night in the rain, cold, and sweltering heat. We play for them as
much for ourselves. It's the place where we conjure up spirits and
manifest visions - visions of a better place."
The band procured additional musicians for the recording, including
Chris Carter on Rhodes and Moog synths, Julio Moreno
on congas and percussion, Chris Arpad on steel drum, Jennifer
Argenti and Oliver Meissner on violins, and Kristen
Van Hala on flute. The final product is a vibrant jamboree dreamt
up by a family who longs for a blissfully beautiful place.
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