Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Amazing New Buffalo

When it comes to production - I am a man who loves subtlety. Big sweeping production certainly has its place, but in the age of excess, minimalism has become the new avant garde. New Buffalo is the alias for singer/songwriter Sally Seltmann, married to Darren Seltmann of the Avalanches. The sounds of the Avalanches is anything but a subtle - a group of DJ's who build samples upon samples to create songs that sound like science fiction films. In their remix work, however, Seltmann and co. have taken their love for unique samples and used them sparingly, given the remixes and odd, yet beautiful touch. The same principal is applied in Seltmann's production work for his wife's debut, The Last Beautiful Day, released by Arts and Crafts in 2004.

Seltmann's gorgeous, mountain-moving voice is, of course, the main attraction - but it is certainly not the only attraction. What sets New Buffalo's debut apart, and makes it the kind of record I can easily get obsessed with is this subtle experimentation. Such experiments are never a distraction - simply a boost. Her lyrics soundtrack a bleak winter day in a time gone by, while lyrical references to detectives and film directors recall the days of classic cinema. The use of soft, 1940's horns on "On Sunday" make the song sound as if it could be coming out Blonde Venus starring Marlena Dietrich, and the Seltmann couple sound as though their soundtracking a never-written film noir. Elsewhere, on "I've Got You and You've Got Me" [MP3], Seltmann's love song is supplemented with bell loops simultaneously played backwards and forwards over a repeated horn sample soon joined by the same piano keys being gently hit. The simple rhythm doesn't change even as it hits the life-affirming chorus. This is the sound of classic love - the kind of classic love that doesn't seem to exist now, and maybe never before. But we've seen it in films like Casablanca that make one feel as though its possible if they keep searching for it.

Purchase The Last Beautiful Day at iTunes or Napster

"I've Got You and You've Got Me"

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