The barrier between music and psychology is faint. Sometimes a song is felt more than heard. Husband-wife pair Exitmusic play music for that deeply internal aspect you wrestle with, the close dichotomy between fear and comfort, disembodiment and viscera, or as one half dispels, "both anxiety and the antidote for anxiety."
Rooted in New York, Aleksa Palladino and Devon Church came together a few years ago with only an acoustic guitar, soundscapes recorded on a four-track, and Aleksa's cunning, arching voice. Devon (in a move that could pass for "Aw, how sweet") describes it as "an incredible instrument, the best voice in music right now." While absolutes can certainly be contested, Aleksa's vocals are truly compelling, both sleepy and clamorous.
In 2008, the two self-released their initial batch of songs titling the collection The Decline of the West. First albums are always an interesting jumping off point to judge music from, taking note of evolutionary tactics. Aleksa believes that "The Decline of the West has a different relationship to storytelling then the new songs. Nothing drastic, but we were very into telling a story in acts rather than more conventional pop structure. There is a lot more classical music and opera influences on the first album." Devon alerted listeners to look forward to a earthly resonance on their new songs, due to a deep throbbing bass missing from The Decline of the West.
The title track from their first release, pretty spooky, ain't it?
As storytellers and songwriters, Exitmusic weave soaring sentiments in delicate terms. However, with a million other things in life, like bad habits or losing your cell phone, the creation of these affections is unconscious. "I find it almost counterproductive to sit down with an idea in mind. It just gets in the way most of the time," Aleska elucidates. The process is basic: they sit down to play and record as they write, ensuring that all results are organic.
The cultivation of their gloom-gaze aesthetic is thanks to the parallel coasts Exitmusic evolved in. Living first in Los Angeles, the neo-noir, tragic Hollywood element of their work makes perfect sense. The two got hitched overlooking Mulholland Drive, a fact that calls to mind Aleksa as a current-day Lynchian heroine, all dreamily torrid and darkly fantastical. Their just released EP From Silence was recorded in Brooklyn, as the two now call New York their home, although "in a way we don't even feel like a part of 'the scene," they reminisce. 'LA was a great place to start. It had a lot of DIY spirit and was very supportive of experimentation, but at the same time it felt really hard to break through there. New York just has momentum."
From Silence breaches "themes of loss, both personal and universal, the destruction of nature and the destruction of our own nature." Simple. Exitmusic twist glorious ambient electronics, futuristic keys, and groaning guitar work into breathless, unstoppable beauty, an actuality that they don't fit neatly quite anywhere. "We've been called post-punk, post-post punk, post-rock, and even post-trip-hop. I don't think we're post anything, I think we have something new to say. All the comparisons fall short, don't fit right and feel constrictive."
All their own, Exitmusic can fit into many formats. Aleksa Palladino, both an actor and musician, leaves me with a final remark, one that characterizes From Silence's absorbing chill: "You have to sink into yourself and show what you find. You have to want to communicate your experiences."
The stunning video for "The Hours":
Upcoming US tour dates: you don't wanna miss 'em!
11/15 Carrboro, NC @ Cats Cradle
11/16 Washington, DC @ Black Cat
11/17 Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
11/18 Hoboken, NJ @ Maxwells
11/19 Boston, MA @ Royale Nightclub
11/20 South Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground