Soft Metals: Ian Hixx, Patricia Hall
Soft Metals is the electronic romance of Ian Hicks and Patricia Hall of Portland, Oregon played on vintage synthesizers and drum machines. Brought together in April of 2009 through a common love of late 70s to early 80s analog synthesizer music, they decided to meet up and write some songs. Inspiration came to them by way of experimental noise and avant garde, early industrial music, minimal synth, 1980s Chicago house, synth pop, and italo disco. Building their songs from moody, experimental, and improvised sessions together, they never know what influence will have the upper hand. It’s simplest to say Soft Metals make dark, romantic, electronic dance music.
Soft Metals ~ Lenses (2013)
Artist: Soft Metals
Format: Vinyl, LP, CD, Album, Limited Edition, Blue Marbled
Released: July 16, 2013
Style: New Wave, Minimal, Darkwave
© Captured Tracks Records
1 Lenses |3:51
2 Tell Me |4:10
3 When I Look Into Your Eyes |3:28
4 No Turning Back |4:14
5 Hourglass |3:25
6 On A Cloud |4:21
7 In The Air |5:26
8 Interobserver |7:50
Total Time: 36:50
| DDD | Audio CD | CBR 320 Kbps/48.1 kHz/Stereo |
| File Size: 103 mb. | Password: ianpatricia |
Soft Metals is an electronic duo formed in 2009 by Ian Hicks and Patricia Hall currently based in Los Angeles, California. They met in late 2008 at a DJ night hosted by Patricia in Portland. Work began on their self produced, self recorded 2nd LP Lenses in the summer of 2012. They sketched out what would become the song "Lenses" and work then continued into the fall and winter.
Art Direction – Mike Sniper
Art Direction, Layout, Design – Ryan McCardle
Drum Programming (Additional) – Keith McIvor (tracks: 1, 4, 7)
Mastered by Josh Bonati
Photography by Erin Frost, Shaun Kardinal
Songwriter, Performer, Recorded By, Mixed By – Ian Hicks, Patricia Hall
Synth (Additional) – Diego Herrera (tracks: 7), Keith McIvor (tracks: 4)
First 300 copies pressed on "powder blue" vinyl. Includes download card.
Comes with 11"x11" black and white insert with lyrics/credits.
Photography is titled "Still Hardcore"
& here: MedFire!
On their 2010 self-titled debut, Soft Metals freely crossed the unguarded borders that separate different realms of electronic music. They conceivably appealed to fans of both the transcontinental nights of Italians Do It Better’s roster and brave, unmapped frontiers in the underground dance scene, with nods to darkened warehouse discos, kraut endurance tests and straight-up experimental sounds. Despite this, there was a tendency to just lump Soft Metals with synth-pop also-rans, as if their association with Captured Tracks meant they were more akin to chillwave than Throbbing Gristle, whom they have notably covered.
In essence, the L.A.-via-Portland duo unfortunately needs people to not think about where they are from, who they play with or what label they are on and instead just engage with the album like any other text, with preconceptions checked at the door. Sophomore effort Lenses is another trip into the “interdisciplinary” world of synthesizers and the project of collaboration, with songs coming from a wide range of influences and not needing to be defined by a scene or a style.
Late-album cut ‘In The Air’ is the near-ideal result of this approach, with the beats showing their Kraftwerk debt by maintaining the same tempo and defining elements for the entirety of the song, while avoiding the repetition expected through building and releasing with smooth strokes, allowing the hypnotic pattern to entrance the audience while Patricia Hall’s voice lilts above the song and flutters back inside gracefully.
The confidence on Lenses is what impresses most. The drill-like squeals and wash of gritty texture on “Tell Me” blanket the vocals and let their feet hang out enough so that you barely know they are there. Better is when Soft Metals take the leap and lose the vocals completely, both on the busy and vibrant “Hourglass” and the experimental closer ‘Interobserver.’ Soft Metals make most sense when they check their pop inclinations at the door, and by the end of the album you can’t help but think they realize it.
And while the songs with vocals aren’t slouches, they do drift into too much of the same thing, with ‘No Turning Back’ jumping off with an intriguing, “Blue Velvet”-esque tone but loses its intrigue when the song over-embellishes the its implied directions. ‘On A Cloud,’ on the other hand tries to get by on texture alone, and even at four minutes long, the lack of songwriting is apparent, making it at best a transition to the album’s outstanding conclusion, and at worst a waste of space.
And space on Lenses is a precious commodity, with only eight songs offered, and only two of them drifting on for more than five minutes. The way that Soft Metals experiment with repetition without needing much time to do so is unusual and impressive, with Lenses ending up so much stronger for allowing the ideas behind the music to drift into view of the audience. By making an album that sounds mysterious without being mysterious, that which could feel sterile because of the electronic reliance instead feels very human and alive. And as Daft Punk showed earlier this year by getting away from the disconnect between person and machine that seems so inherent in dance and electronic realms, the next leap may be back to the organic, back to emotional connection. Soft Metals accomplish this through their collaboration, with the interaction of two living people responsible for the sounds, and their machines never obscuring that, resulting in one of the better electronic albums of the year.
Soft Metals ~ "Lenses" (Official Video)
Soft Metals ~ "On a Cloud" (Official Video)
Soft Metals ~ "No Turning Back" (Official Video)
Soft Metals ~ When I Look Into Your Eyes (David Dean Burkhart)
Listen & Enjoy!!!
© 2013 Captured Tracks Records