Title: ABCDEFG-HIJKLMNOP-QRSTUV-WXYZ Label: Northern Spy Records Year: 2012 Starring’s ABCDEFG-HIJKLMNOP-QRSTUV-WXYZ combines minimalist musical patterns with dreamy poetry to create a new style front-woman Clara Hunter likes to call “sparkle prog.” It captures the frenetic energy of the band’s live show, but here it is overlain with a new palate of synthesizers, delay effects, drum processing, aux percussion, and vocals that create delicate, but sometimes radical juxtapositions between the lyrical and the experimental. Though songs like “the best” and “aphonia” channel the loud, raw, and repetitive “circus punk” of Starring’s early releases, much of this record speaks with a broader sense of expressive depth. Over the course of the album’s six cuts, choruses soar at monstrous heights framed by mechanical and occult trances. Dead jazz turns up with fuzzy 8-bit solos, whistling synths pipe beneath ghostly choral arrangements, viola lines in Turkish modes swoop into ornamented curls and loops, and singer Clara Hunter’s girlish vocals whisper the record’s secrets with surreal, woozy melodies. Concretely, the album reflects an aesthetic that recalls the classic sounds of European prog rock (Magma, Faust, Neu!), the unhinged grit of 1970’s New York no wave artists like Suicide, the earliest cuts from minimalists like Terry Riley and Philip Glass, and even a dose of post-rock’s strung-out improvisations.

Title: ABCDEFG-HIJKLMNOP-QRSTUV-WXYZ
Label: Northern Spy Records
Year: 2012

Starring’s ABCDEFG-HIJKLMNOP-QRSTUV-WXYZ combines minimalist musical patterns with dreamy poetry to create a new style front-woman Clara Hunter likes to call “sparkle prog.” It captures the frenetic energy of the band’s live show, but here it is overlain with a new palate of synthesizers, delay effects, drum processing, aux percussion, and vocals that create delicate, but sometimes radical juxtapositions between the lyrical and the experimental. Though songs like “the best” and “aphonia” channel the loud, raw, and repetitive “circus punk” of Starring’s early releases, much of this record speaks with a broader sense of expressive depth.

Over the course of the album’s six cuts, choruses soar at monstrous heights framed by mechanical and occult trances. Dead jazz turns up with fuzzy 8-bit solos, whistling synths pipe beneath ghostly choral arrangements, viola lines in Turkish modes swoop into ornamented curls and loops, and singer Clara Hunter’s girlish vocals whisper the record’s secrets with surreal, woozy melodies. Concretely, the album reflects an aesthetic that recalls the classic sounds of European prog rock (Magma, Faust, Neu!), the unhinged grit of 1970’s New York no wave artists like Suicide, the earliest cuts from minimalists like Terry Riley and Philip Glass, and even a dose of post-rock’s strung-out improvisations.

Album: Wife of God Label: Death By Audio Year: 2010 On their genre-bending debut record, Wife of God, Village Voice described “krautpunks” STARRING discovers a uniquely bombastic and exciting style of indie-psychedelia, carving out a distinct place amidst the dizzying variety of trends in Brooklyn art rock. Founded in 2008 by PTERODACTYL drummer MATT MARLIN and SKELETON$ keyboardist MIKE GALLOPE and later filled out with front-woman CLARA LATHAM of orch-pop outfit THE FANCY, AMY CIMINI of avant-garde collective TILL BY TURNING, and SAM KULIK of TALIBAM! and CAPILLARY ACTION, Starring revisits the terrain of heretofore un-cool progressive rock by stripping it of pretentious improvisations and tasteless chord changes, and distilling it to its essence—a certain fascination with complexity. Far cruder than fellow “progressive” Brooklyn bands like Battles and Extra Life, if Starring plays “prog rock” it is because they are in love with a sense of unscripted fun, looking to spit beer, exhilarate and electrify rather than indulge or show. Taking the art of excitement to the point of obsession, Starring combines the forces of farfisa, viola, guitar and bass to sculpt driving, heavy, high-speed instrumental verses that take aim at soaring, epic choruses. Beneath it all, Matt Marlin’s notoriously frenzied drumming, which is as furious here as on any Pterodactyl record, propels this distortion-happy quintet from one transfixing riff to the next.

Album: Wife of God
Label: Death By Audio
Year: 2010

On their genre-bending debut record, Wife of God, Village Voice described “krautpunks” STARRING discovers a uniquely bombastic and exciting style of indie-psychedelia, carving out a distinct place amidst the dizzying variety of trends in Brooklyn art rock. Founded in 2008 by PTERODACTYL drummer MATT MARLIN and SKELETON$ keyboardist MIKE GALLOPE and later filled out with front-woman CLARA LATHAM of orch-pop outfit THE FANCY, AMY CIMINI of avant-garde collective TILL BY TURNING, and SAM KULIK of TALIBAM! and CAPILLARY ACTION, Starring revisits the terrain of heretofore un-cool progressive rock by stripping it of pretentious improvisations and tasteless chord changes, and distilling it to its essence—a certain fascination with complexity. Far cruder than fellow “progressive” Brooklyn bands like Battles and Extra Life, if Starring plays “prog rock” it is because they are in love with a sense of unscripted fun, looking to spit beer, exhilarate and electrify rather than indulge or show. Taking the art of excitement to the point of obsession, Starring combines the forces of farfisa, viola, guitar and bass to sculpt driving, heavy, high-speed instrumental verses that take aim at soaring, epic choruses. Beneath it all, Matt Marlin’s notoriously frenzied drumming, which is as furious here as on any Pterodactyl record, propels this distortion-happy quintet from one transfixing riff to the next.

 

 

Since forming in 2008, Starring has honed the art of sublime textures that unite symphonic euphoria with machine-like repetitions and subversively sweet lullabies. Unhinged, introspective, but also weirdly unpredictable, the music arrives like a nutty and cosmic musical ice cream sundae. Now joining the roster of Brooklyn’s Northern Spy, Starring releases ABCDEFG-HIJKLMNOP-QRSTUV-WXYZ: a creative bouquet that integrates fastidious studio experimentation with elements of the band’s hot-blooded and earsplitting performances in the musty corners of Brooklyn’s DIY rock scene.

In 2011, these long-time friends holed up in Brooklyn’s St. Cecilia’s Church with producer Matt Mehlan (of Skeletons) to write and record this album, aiming at something sculptural and deliberate that sought to integrate the lyrical and the experimental. New ideas came fast and furious as all five members explored musical territory untouched by any of the band’s other creative outlets (Pterodactyl, Skeletons, Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang, Talibam!, Frankie Rose, the Fancy, and lots of more experimental work), and infused the record with sublimated repressions and newly-tapped potentials.

Like its unwieldy, expansive title, ABCDEFG-HIJKLMNOP-QRSTUV-WXYZ is a sleepy-psycho explosion of trap doors and wild juxtapositions that combines razor sharp minimalism with dreamy poetry. It captures elements of the frenetic energy of the band’s live show, but here it is overlain with a new palate of synthesizers, delay effects, drum processing, aux percussion, and vocals that create delicate, but sometimes radical juxtapositions. Over the course of the album’s six cuts, choruses soar at monstrous heights framed by mechanical and occult trances. Dead jazz turns up with fuzzy 8-bit solos, whistling synths pipe beneath ghostly choral arrangements, viola lines in microtonal modes swoop into ornamented curls and loops, and singer Clara Hunter’s girlish vocals whisper the record’s secrets with surreal, woozy melodies.

Dubbed “sparkle-prog” by the band, ABCDEFG-HIJKLMNOP-QRSTUV-WXYZ reflects an aesthetic that recalls the classic sounds of European prog rock (Magma, Faust, Neu!), the unhinged grit of 1970’s New York no wave artists like Suicide, the earliest cuts from minimalists like Terry Riley and Philip Glass, and even a dose of post-rock’s strung-out improvisations.