Comprised of John Blonde, Chris Pace, and Brian McNamara, the Brooklyn-based electronic music trio House of Blondes can trace their origins to 2008 when founding members Blonde and Pace met at Smoke and Mirrors Studio. Along with local musicians Mike Ignethron and Paul Reyes, the then-constitued quartet had intended to work on an indie rock-based project; however, as Blonde’s interest in synthesizers and electronic music grew, the project gradually changed into a minimalist electronic project in which Pace and Blonde began working with each other exclusively. The end result was that the duo wound up co-writing and recording the material, which became House of Blondes’ critically applauded debut effort, Clean Cuts along with contributions from producer/engineer George Vitray and instrumentalist Brian McNamara, who would eventually become a full-time member.
While playing an increasing number of shows locally and elsewhere over the last couple of years, including two shows with Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and Psychic TV at the now-defunct Brooklyn Night Bazaar, the members of House of Blondes also spent an intense period of time writing and recording the material that would comprise their recently released sophomore effort, Stranger Still, which was released this past summer. Stranger Still’s 9 tracks are from a combination of live in-studio performances, improvisational jam sessions and much more formally structured songs and as a result the material feels and sounds looser, and intimate as it draws from dub, trance, cosmic house and Kraftwerk‘s motorik grooves. But perhaps more important, to my ears, the material while retaining the space age feel that first captured my attention is warmer, more human. It somehow evokes the sensation of floating through the cosmos and observing the rippling and undulating of the fabric of spacetime as much as it evokes more earthly phenomenon such as pushing and shoving your way through a New York rush hour commute and stopping to stare at clouds parting overhead, without bothering to care if you got in someone’s way.
Album single “Are You Boys Alright?” is an icy and starkly minimalist and atmospheric song consisting of a sparse, gently echoing beat, hazy, droning synths and chanted lyrics. Much like Brian Eno’s ambient sound recordings, the song requires a bit of attention and patience, as it slowly reveals subtle layers of nuance in repeated plays — all while evoking the undulating ripples in a pond and of smoke dissipating into the ether.
Now, Chris Moore is a New York-based producer and mixer who’s been making electronic music since he was a teenager. As Moore told me by email he “quit for a while to focus on production and mixing work.” Last fall, Moore began writing and recording tracks under the moniker Cloud Leopard, initially as a way to get back into the swing of writing and recording.
Moore met House of Blondes’ frontman John Blonde at a bi-monthly electronic music night, hosted and booked by a mutual friend. Moore had been DJ’ing some of his own tracks and eventually Blonde and Moore began chatting about Moore’s production work. Eventually Blonde asked Moore if he’d be interested in doing a remix of some material off the band’s recent album.
As Moore told me by email, his remix of album single “Are You Boys Alright?” is his first remix under the Cloud Leopard moniker. “For the remix, I wanted to combine the cosmic vibe of the original with a dancier energy,” he explained. “So it’s sort of a combination of 70s German kosmische-like Cluster or Manuel Gottsching’s more electronic stuff with a 80s chicago/detroit house / early-90s uk ambient techno vibe.” Certainly, as a result the remix is more propulsive as it shimmers and glistens with a dance floor-ready sheen.
(Album Art Credit: Kurt Sawilla)