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West Indian Girl
4th And Wall
Milan Records
www.westindiangirl.com


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 fantasy realm.

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 Siouxsie Sioux.

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.

-Susan Frances


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