This Is Cinema at Lincoln Hall | Concert preview
The Whistler throws its weight behind the duo’s intoxicating debut EP.
A woozy, inviting aura helps keep This Is Cinema from being completely incongruous with its misleading handle. Melodic narratives cede the spotlight to shapeless swatches of sound that amass one by one, stacked in a totem until they’re stripped away. Tones are puzzle pieces to singer-strummer Ben Babbitt and knob-twiddler Theo Karon, both of whom have shared credits with local psych-folk scene fixture Pillars and Tongues, and elements of that outfit’s mystical delirium are present here, if dialed back.
TIC’s mood-altering debut, Cycles, sets the mind at ease, at least for a moment. Fissures are never far from the surface, whether it’s static from a dissonant chord or a warbling vocal melody teetering on the edge of atonal. It’s eerie but oddly comforting, as if Babbitt’s larynx is in traction. A delirious groove will drop in, as on the end of the title track, flirting with rhythm but never consummating the romance. Jazzy guitar chords chop up and down throughout “Mädchen,” dotting a path for Babbitt’s voice, which trails slightly behind in choral swirls. Softly glowing synthesizers snake in and out of “Every Reason” before billows of fermented tones coalesce into a scraping polyphonic rust.
Perhaps that’s why the namesake imprint of local cocktail den the Whistler threw its weight behind the new EP. Those texture-obsessed swells go well with the intoxicating buzz of elite spirits.