The mutant mush of Singer is buoyant indie-pop distorted through a prism of molecular synth science. A nebulous whorl like the murky memory of a favorite melody, it’s the product of Chicago avant-indie veterans turned Brooklyn blissmakers: Robert Lowe of one-man cloud machine Lichens, Ben Vida of organic drone masters Town & Country and Todd Rittmann of U.S. Maple (he’s also the one Singer member who still reps the Chi). Their second album Mindreading (out this week via Drag City) is like a gorgeous, hypnotic, amorphous seasicknes, located somewhere between the electro-acoustic slurry of Silver Apples and the blip-pop bubbles of contemporary blissmakers like Dosh. “New Bad Teeth” combines Vida’s lively, Mali-tinged guitar riff with a dreamlike pile-up of electronic textures, sputtering drums and Lowe’s liquid falsetto. Singer’s team-bred compositional process involves a lot of chance and exploration. “Delving into the spontaneous territory, we stepped out on a limb to make something fresh and alien to ourselves,” says Lowe. “Using harmony in a slightly uneasy, almost nightmarish, but whimsical way.”
What is “New Bad Teeth” about?
Ben Vida: Inheriting bad teeth and bad habits. The group worked together to write all the lyrics. I think it was the collaboration that was inspiring.
How did the recording session go down?
Vida: The track was built off a fast rhythmic synth patch that Adam built a beat to. That drum track then became the source that triggered all of the other synth rhythms. A simple idea but totally awesome for making a track that is tight but still retains the gesture of a human performance.
Robert Lowe: Recording this song as every other on the record was done in a collage style by committee. Wherein we individually wrote parts, discussed the possibility of progressions and, through this process, let the song reveal itself to us. Vocally it started with a set of lyrics Ben had written out, handed over to me and then we rearranged and workshopped words and phrases until they wrestled themselves into place. Truly making the most of the collaboration.
Singer has this mushy, heavily layered idea of pop. What type of emotional or physical reaction is your intention with all these sounds coming at once?
Vida: We’re heads making music for heads. We have bodies below these heads too.
Lowe: I think we really embraced this sort of science fiction, waking dream sensibility with the record. The idea of breaching the unknown, as we ourselves couldn’t see the proper outcome of Mindreading.
What’s the most memorable show you’ve played in New York?
Lowe: I think one that really stands out is a Singer show at Glasslands in 2008. It just seemed that the night lined up quite properly. It was with Silk Flowers very early on for them as well as Rings. The way the evening flowed from set to set as well as the general vibe of the patrons along with the performers made for sort of a magical show. One of Singer’s strongest performances, if not the strongest.
What’s your favorite place to eat in Brooklyn?
Lowe: Probably Qoo.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 21, 2011