Review : Exitmusic - Passage
PitchforkMuch of the press Brooklyn duo Exitmusic garnered for its 2011 EP, From Silence, depended as much on the pair's backstory as their tension-dependent sound. The tale of Aleksa Palladino and Devon Church, after all, is more than a good narrative hook; it's a real-life manifestation of the kind of woozy, romantic arch you've either seen in your daydreams, on the silver screen, or in paperbacks filed in the young-adult or classic literature sections. The daughter of a New York opera singer, Palladino met the relatively agrarian Church in the smoking car of a train while backpacking across Canada. They were teenagers. The new friends tried to watch a meteor shower from the train's observation car, failed, and soon bid adieu; Church wrote her letters, bid for her affection, and eventually just moved to New York and in with her. They got married on Mulholland Drive, she found success as an actress, and they since started an interesting indie rock band together. "As they share a cigarette on the walk to their apartment, they think about their coming week," read a 2011 profile for The Stool Pigeon. "The Emmys, New York Fashion Week, the season premiere of 'Boardwalk Empire'." Yes, then, sometimes love can be like the movies.
But Palladino and Church's shared past is more than simple star-laced bait; it's essential to the drama and radiance of their music. If their story sounds like one to be written into a movie, the 10 songs on their Secretly Canadian full-length debut, Passage, feel like scores for pictures not yet made. Insurgent, cinematic, and sometimes brilliant, Passage is an emotionally evocative record bearing sharp hooks, driven deep by heavy textures and broad dynamics. Suggesting Berlin and Bowie, Bedhead and Portishead, Exitmusic's third release continues and catalyzes the pair's stepwise progression, which began with their muted, self-released start in 2007 and last year's refined if stylistically cramped four-track re-introduction. Produced at home by Church but mixed and mastered by the phenomenal Nicolas Vernhes, these songs sound incredible, with their tessellated instrumental layers and intricately woven effects. All at once, it's a sudden move from short films and home movies to a proper, feature-length production. For Palladino and Church, this next level works wonders.
True to her classical pedigree, Palladino is an incredibly versatile singer, able to hurtle gracefully from a Victoria Legrand whisper at the start of "The Modern Age" to a strident command by the time she strangles the tune's final refrain. She sends up smoke during weird waltz "The Night" and plumes of grey during the appropriately named "Storms". Above the outwardly building patter of "White Noise", she shadows the unwavering cool of Zola Jesus; "The Modern Age", the album's lone From Silence holdover, sports the steely glint of the National, just remixed for the fading hours between the dance club's and the bed's rest. During the opening title track, they split her sound open, using her wail as an ornate thread in much the way Sigur Rós once did with Jónsi Birgisson's croon. On "The Wanting", her singing and the treatment the pair give it again mirror Birgisson's alien tone. It becomes the all-encompassing gauze around, above, and beneath a piano-and-bass plod. Both multi-instrumentalists, she and Church weave these vocals into deft thickets of occasionally abrasive electronics, chime-to-roar guitars, wobbly organs, and drums that help conjure the melodrama. But Palladino's adaptability is clearly Exitmusic's anchor, the unifying characteristic that allows the band to scatter from film to dance music, from post-rock heights to mellow-gold lows....full text
NmeUnited in matrimony and music, Brooklyn-based duo Devon Church and Aleksa Palladino embrace their Radiohead-inspired name in sound and sentiment. Their debut album proper quivers and quakes with the cinematic electronics and emotional abandonment of a soundtrack to Armageddon. But for all its bleak, dark fissures, bright and tender lights serenely burst out with hope. Opening title-track and ‘The City’ flicker like lit candles, before burning bright at their core of ruinous drums and Palladino’s femme fatale vocal. ‘The Modern Age’ blossoms as a pop noir anthem, while the ruminating close of ‘Sparks Of Light’ sedates its final stirring throes....full text
TheowlmagAleksa Palladino and Devon Church had a fortuitous meeting on a train in Canada when they were 18 years old. Their chance meeting sparked a whirlwind courtship, eventual marriage, and the genesis of their creative relationship as Exitmusic. Passage, the band’s debut full-length album, grants admission into the couple’s secluded Inception-like world they’ve collectively built that is both escapist and pragmatic.
The world of Exitmusic is colored in black and white where beautifully creepy vocals starkly contrast against a menacing soundscape. Even the track names on Passage act as little guideposts demarcating points of light as Exitmusic’s subconscious exists in limbo. On “City,” Palladino’s androdgynous vocals twist and turn with varied trills and modulations in pitch enveloping her in raw emotion leaving her almost breathless and vulnerable. Passage borders on feeling a bit melodramatic with the rapid rise and cessation of multiple layers of guitars, drums, and keyboards but there’s no denying the evocative nature of Palladino’s voice. Close your eyes and enter the world of Exitmusic...full text
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