Album Review Ishi’s Digital Wounds

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Ishi

Digital Wounds

Internal Records

Release Date: April 9, 2013

 

Track Listing

1.      Mirror Ball Sky

2.      Emotional Hard Drive

3.      Disco Queen

4.      Mother Prism

5.      Moon Watcher

6.      Touch the Future

7.      Slowly but Surely

8.      Digital Wounds

9.      I.S.H.I.

10.  Naked Blur

11.  Tree of Grace

12.  Diamond Door

 

Personnel

JT Mudd

Brad Dale

 

When the Dallas, TX-based act, Ishi formed in 2006, it was initially started as an experiment between friends JD Mudd and Brad Dale. And when they started they had wanted to blend the soulful storytelling and organic instrumentation of folk music with the expanding sonic possibilities of electronic production. The end result was the band’s well-received and award-winning debut album, Through the Trees. Released in 2010, Through the Trees won the band “Best Dance/Electronica Act” and “Best New Artist” nods from The Dallas Observer. And the band opened for New Order – all very impressive for a young band.

   Digital Wounds, Ishi’s sophomore effort was released a few weeks back through Internal Records and with a slickly produced, densely layered synth pop sound with big, club-banging beats, infectiously catchy hooks, and seductively cooed vocals, the album is in some way the band’s attempt to build upon their early success and create a much higher, national profile. Sonically, the material begs repeated listens – and with each listen it reveals deeper layers of sound you may not have initially noticed. Check out how the synths echo and float about dreamily off the gigantic, subwoofer rattling beats and the subtle guitar strumming during the hook of “Mother Prism.” “Moon Watcher” has layers upon layers of synth backed by a quick-paced four on the floor beat that reminds me quite a bit of In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy, complete with gentle bits of psychedelica. “Touch the Future” has a seductive, sinuous synth line which fits with lyrics full of sexual innuendos cooed in a falsetto about vibrations, auras, love and being on the dance floor.  At the bridge you’ll hear cowbell and the additional of female vocalists – possibly to add to the sexiness of the song. “Slowly But Surely” with tons of cowbell to the mix sounds like a buzzing throbbing version of the Rapture’s “House of Jealous Lovers” off Echoes. Guitars, along with synth are layered upon layered and it creates a dizzying feeling.

“Disco Queen,” one of my favorite songs off the album is a certified club-banger – and quite a few people have compared the song to Chromeo and others. It’s sweaty, sex-charged song sung in such a way that it sounds as though the vocalist is actively trying to charm you out of your pants – right this very second.

   Lyrically, the material is smarter than what you may expect but done so with an ironic, playful campiness expected of disco. “Emotional Hard Drive” talks about a lover who plays with the narrator’s heart and emotions using a computer metaphor. Other songs talk about achieving higher consciousness, reincarnation, metaphysical and spiritual concepts. And yet despite the winking self-awareness, the slick production values and the infectiousness of the material, it is admittedly not terribly original. The album draws comparisons sonically (and at times lyrically) to several acts who have released albums within the past decade or so. On a certain level, that’s not a terrible blueprint to copy – the Rapture’s Echoes, Cut Copy’s In Ghost Colours, Bear in Heaven’s I Love You It’s Cool, Miami Horror’s Illumination are in their own right incredible albums that will get asses moving toward the dance floor. Certainly, Digital Wounds will do the same, and in amiable fashion but in the long run, Ishi will have to do more to establish themselves and their own sound.

 

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