Speck Mountain: 'Angela'

Speck Mountain 300

hide captionMairie-Claire Balabanian and Karl Briedrick of Speck Mountain

Colleen Quigley

Impressed by her hair and her involvement with the Kraut Rock fan club, bassist Karl Briedrick confesses he initially met vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Maire-Claire Balabanian on Facebook in 2005 while the two were both students at NYU, and it wasn't long before the two started playing music together. While the duo's debut release, Summer Above, has more of an innocent vibe, their newest album, Some Sweet Relief is more textured and mysterious than its predecessor and begs to be unpacked.

Dreamt up during the cold, inhospitable Chicago winter, Some Sweet Relief is "an ode to the imagination," says Briedrick who recalls the harshness of the winter and the feeling of isolation that results from quiet, empty streets. According to Briedrick, he and Balabanian "wanted to make a record that relied on instincts," so they often entered the recording studio with only "the skeleton of a song and an idea for the lyrics" and figured out the rest on the spot. The resulting album is dreamy, impressionistic, and ambient. Like sunlight shining through a gauzy curtain, Balabanian's rich vocals are simultaneously hazy, distant and piercing.

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