Live Footage: Land Lines’ Gorgeous and Dramatic Tiny Desk Concert Session


Currently comprised of Martina Grbac (vocals, cello), James Han (synth), and Ross Harada (percussion), the Denver, CO-based trio Land Lines Land Lines can trace their origins to the formation and gradual regrouping of a previous project Matson Jones, a project that featured Grbac, Harada and co-founding member Anna Mascorella, who left the band after the release of their full-length, self-titled debut as Land Lines to attend graduate school. James Han, who had been had been recording and touring with Nathaniel Rateliff and Gregory Alan Isakov, joined and helped shape the new sonic direction of the band — a sound that pairs atmospheric, analog synths, thrumming minor chord cello, precise yet percussive rhythms,  electronic beats and Grbac’s effects laden vocals floating over the instrumentation to create a sound that’s sparse, hauntingly gorgeous and tense. As NPR‘s Bob Bollen has said of the band, “Land Lines’ music isn’t jazz or rock, classical or electronica. Instead, it’s at the heart of what I want in music: something singular, new and adventurous.”


The Denver-based trio’s sophomore effort, The Natural World was recorded by Xandy Whitesel and mastered by TW Walsh last year and was briefly self-released early this year. The band then signed to Misra Records, the label home of acts like PhosphorescentDestroyerR.Ring and Torres, and the label released the album globally a few months ago. The album is comprised of material that focuses on love, loss and human nature — and as a result, the material is sultry, haunting, uneasy and lingering. With the self-released and re-release of their sophomore effort, the trio have started to build up a regional and national profile as they’ve played at some of the region’s most renowned venues including The Gothic Theater, Boulder Theatre, Red Rocks Amphitheater — and performing their own songs with the Colorado Symphony at Boettcher Concert Hall. They’ve also played with renowned indie artists such as DeVotchKa, Nathaniel Rateliff, Esme Patterson and The Black Heart Procession.

NPR’s Bob Bollen invited Land Lines to play material from their sophomore effort at their Tiny Desk Concerts in Washington, DC. “Wreckage,” the set’s first song consists of droning synths, propulsive  drumming, layers of droning and shimmering synths and throbbing cello paired with Grbac’s tender and aching vocals in a song that feels tense, uneasy and accusatory. “Anniversary,” the second song beings with shimmering and undulating synths, finger plucked cello chords and rapid percussion in a song that feels like a feverish dream — the sort of vivid and half remembered dream in which you can’t quite tell what’s real and what isn’t.“Fall or Fall” consists of trembling, staccato synth stabs, jazz-inspired drumming, gently plucked cello chords, followed by a breathtakingly gorgeous bursts of cello with Grbac’s vocals floating over the instrumentation and beckoning like a siren. The material is gorgeous and dramatic while possessing a quiet, self-assuredness — but just under the surface is an uneasy, stormy tumult.