To call them multi-instrumentalists might be a little overdone. The kids in Freelance Whales are really just collectors, at heart. They don't really fancy buffalo nickels or Victorian furniture, but over the past two years, they've been collecting instruments, ghost stories, and dream-logs. Somehow, from this strange compost heap of little sounds and quiet thoughts, songs started to rise up like steam from the ground.
The first performance of these songs took place in January of 2009, in Staten Island's abandoned farm colony, a dilapidated geriatric ward, in one of New York's lesser visited boroughs. A seemingly never-ending jigsaw of small rooms, the farm colony ate them whole and threatened to never regurgitate them. And even though the onlookers were only spiritual presences, the group was still palpably nervous and visibly cold. After a bit of singing, strumming and stomping asbestos, they realized that they'd found a good crowd. They heard a bit of clapping from an adjacent room, also some laughing, but not a single soul asked about their record.
Weathervanes, the groups debut LP, finished tracking just a few nights earlier. Swirling with organic and synthetic textures, interlocking rhythmic patterns, and light harmonic vocals, the record works to tell a simple, pre-adolescent love story: a young male falls in love with the spectral young femme who haunts his childhood home. He chases her in his dreams but finds her to be mostly elusive. He imagines her alive, and wonders if someday he'll take on her responsibilities of ghosting, or if maybe he'll join her, elsewhere.
Since their brief residency at the Farm Colony, Freelance Whales have taken to city streets, subway platforms, and stages with their swirling nostalgia. Many people who found them playing in those public spaces, managed to forget what train they were supposed to take; some of them forgot what language they originally spoke. And so, after playing in New York City, almost exclusively, for about a year, they embarked on their first tour of the United States, and Canada. They saw buffalos posted on hilltops, armies of windmills, and lots of lovely people who let the music run their blood in reverse.
The quartet’s members Nicole Miglis, Trayer Tryon, Paul Giese & Zach Tetreault played together in various formations as far back as middle school, but it took until adulthood and 2012 for them to become Hundred Waters. Living under one roof meant the band had a communal mentality, yet each maintained their own distinct projects, borrowing here and there from each other. It was in interpreting a friends’ music together that they discovered the power of their combination, and they quickly fell to work reorienting their lives around an album. The music they found was a beautiful blend of contradictions, mournful yet colorful, introverted yet aware, and brought the tradition of songwriting to a strange future. Initially released by their local label Elestial Sound, their self-titled debut soon became seen as the sound of Florida, drawing loose comparisons to Stereolab, Four Tet, and Bjork. Soon it attracted the most unlikely of label bosses, Skrillex, who signed the band to his OWSLA label that same year and gave the album a full-scale release, with remixes by Araab Muzik, Star Slinger, and TokiMonsta. Since then the band has taken its live show around the world, touring with artists such as Grimes, Julia Holter, Alt-J & the XX.
"Il Abanico make an innovative and outstanding brand of post-punk. It's equal part Twin Sister's eighties-pop, kraut-backboned Foals dance, and Stereolab-style experimentalism. Last year's EP Crossing Colours is a fantastic, patchworked texture of global sounds and influences, and made enough waves for them to book their current North American tour and flesh out to a five piece live. You'd be well, well advised to watch out for their next release" (NXNE).