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Head Spins [Extended Version]

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High Places: Fragility Personified

High Places: Fragility Personified

Head Spins [Extended Version]

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/96741912/96739425" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Friday's Pick

  • Song: "Head Spins"
  • Artist: High Places
  • CD: 03/07-09/07
  • Genre: Pop

It's human interaction that gives life to High Places' sweetly handmade song "Head Spins." Hisham Bharoocha hide caption

toggle caption Hisham Bharoocha

High Places' members make looped music without loops; music that repeats itself without seeming repetitive. They draw from patterns charted out by hand, until an unconscious break occurs. Composers such as Steve Reich have experimented with this technique using more formal instruments, but never in such a heartwarmingly low-rent way. High Places' samples aren't glossy, pristine or impeccable; they're handmade and hand-played, and it shows.

Still, the most interesting juxtaposition in "Head Spins" — from the recent singles collection 03/07-09/07, which was just followed by a new self-titled studio album — is the way singer Mary Pearson's almost childlike lyrics are set against thick psychedelic landscapes. "Ah-ha-ha-ha / You're a pretty girl" is the key line here, with "pretty" scraping the top of Pearson's range, to the point where her voice threatens to crack between the syllables. Perhaps that's the point: The samples and the vocal together possess the common ground of human fragility and even human error. In this mindset, High Places' members are free to use whatever sound sources they please, knowing that it's human interaction that gives their songs life.

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03/07 - 09/07

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Album
03/07 - 09/07
Artist
High Places
Label
Thrill Jockey
Released
2008

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High Places

Purchase Music

Buy Featured Music

Album
High Places
Artist
High Places
Released
2008

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

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