Courtesy of the artist
"Altos Lugares" describes a late-night mountaintop vision that sounds a lot like High Places' newly adopted home, Los Angeles.
"Altos Lugares" describes a late-night mountaintop vision that sounds a lot like High Places' newly adopted home, Los Angeles. Courtesy of the artist
Song: "Altos Lugares"
Artist: High Places
CD: Original Colors
High Places' Rob Barber and Mary Pearson have been making large-hearted and appealingly modest homemade electronic music since the mid-'00s, but they've been tinkering with their sound ever since. From the sweetly clattering, Gamelan-flavored electro-pop of High Places' 2008 self-titled debut, the duo has grown into something deeper, darker and more definitively driven by the four-on-the-floor rhythms of dance music. Its latest, Original Colors, isn't club-banger material by any stretch of the imagination, but it's music you can move to — crisper, heavier on the low end and spacious enough to get lost in.
"Altos Lugares," the album's standout track, is built on a bed of pulsating beats that evoke a sort of duct-tape-and-twine approximation of 1990s ambient house, a genre developed to soundtrack the wee hours of the morning as the clubs close their doors.
Pearson's dreamy, delicately observed lyrics drift into the mix, describing a late-night mountaintop vision that sounds a lot like High Places' newly adopted Los Angeles home. "All the little cars driving around / The highway's like a maze," she sings. "It's hard to see what all the rush is for / but the view stretches for days."
"Altos Lugares" radiates a sense of wonder at that improbable city in the middle of the desert. There's even a bit of L.A. flavor in its winkingly bilingual title ("Altos Lugares" is "High Places" en Español.) As our narrator drifts up into the stratosphere, it's easy to picture her waving goodbye to the twinkling sea of lights that makes up the L.A. sprawl — a stage set for millions of dreams and a place with its own strange magic.