Initially formed back in 2008 as a duo featuring Julie Lynn (vocals, bass, keys) and Geoffrey Scott (vocals, guitar, keys), the San Francisco- based shoegazer rock/space rock/dream pop act Slowness has released two albums and an EP — 2011’s Hopeless but Otherwise EP, 2013’s For Those Who Wish to See The Glass Half Full and 2014’s How to Keep From Falling Off a Mountain — before officially expanding to a trio with the addition of Christy Scott (drums), who has performed with a wide variety of artists over her 30+ year career, including Beastie Boys’ Adam Horovitz, avant-garde artist Rebecca Moore and political activist Reverend Billy among others.
Released earlier this year through Schoolkids Records, Berths is Slowness’ third full-length album — and the first album from the San Francisco-based shoe gazers in five years. The follow-up to 2014’s How to Keep From Falling off a Mountain continues the band’s ongoing collaboration with their longtime producer and engineer Monte Vallier — but unlike their previously recorded output, Side A was engineered by Dave Voight at his Beyond Notes studio here in Brooklyn, while Side B was done with Vallier at Ruminator Audio in San Francisco. With the release of album singles “Rose” and “Berlin,” the newly constituted trio have further cemented their reputation for a unique take on shoegaze and dream pop, that possesses elements of slowcore, psych rock, Krautrock and drone.
Berths’ third and latest single “Sand & Stone” is a brooding and slow-burning track centered around jangling guitars, achingly plaintive vocals and a gorgeous Cure-like guitar solo — and while evoking a narrator that’s lost in a very dark and very lonely place, the track isn’t completely devoid of light. In fact, there’s a subtle sense of hope that things do get a bit better in due time.
“We had the whole of ‘Sand & Stone’ recorded for months with no lyrics. I thought I’d get away for a long weekend and isolate myself so I could get some writing done.Through an old friend, I found a cabin in Half Moon Bay, CA. It was late May, cold and foggy. Jules (Julie Lynn) and I had broken up about three months prior and I hadn’t yet begun to process it. Instead of the solitude I was hoping for, I went into a dark and lonely place,” the band’s Geoffrey Scott explains in press notes. “Thankfully, I had cell reception so I began reaching out everywhere. I even called Jules and we talked extensively about what we were both going through. After a few days, I still couldn’t write, so I called my friend Dom P, from the band Like Herding Cats, in New York. I told him what I was going through and how I felt paralyzed, both emotionally and creatively. He encouraged me to go out to the beach and write about the environment I was in, combined with what I was going through. So that’s what I did, and in the end, Dom’s advice proved incredibly helpful, because it not only gave me the lyrics to the song, but it helped me begin to see the light. The sun actually broke through the fog while I was in the midst of writing, and it all came very quickly.”
“‘Sand & Stone,” Scott continues “is about being able to recognize that while you might be going through a difficult time, the planet keeps revealing. The sun will come up, and there will be light all around you, despite any maligned notions that tells you otherwise.”
Directed by Oliver Ousterhout, the recently released video for “Sand & Stone” was shot in Half Moon Bay, CA and stars the band’s Geoffrey Scott and Julie Lynn in bunny masks walking on the beach — and the setting and the characters actions give the whole proceeding a very David Lynch-like air. “One of our rotation bass players, Greg Dubrow, introduced us to Oliver Ousterhout,” the band’s Julie Lynn explains in press notes. Ousterhoust was interested in making a film for “Sand & Stone,” and “once he saw the astonishing natural beauty of the cove that inspired the lyrics, he had concept unfold of filming us moving the environment backward — but played as if we were in forward motion, so that we could seemingly be surrounded by an ocean in retreat and by footsteps that left no trace.”
“We loved the idea. Our day working with him on-site was cold and magical and a dreamlike experience itself! We spent a lot of time walking backwards in the sand, soaked and cold and trying to pull off something that was far more challenging than expected,” Lynn and Scott say of working with Ousterhout. “Perhaps it remained an absolute pleasure throughout because the very process of trying to move with grace kept us very closely connected to the theme of the song! Walking itself became denaturalized, and there was an ever present fear of losing balance, not being able to keep a steady direction, or being hit by waves we couldn’t see coming, but knew were inevitable. But every step made it easier, and by the end of the day, we could start to gaze outward towards the sea or to the mountains as we strode instead of focusing on fear and discomfort.”