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High Places - Year Off
Dec 08, 2011
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Why do we like this?
Something terrible happened for smokers two years ago in Europe: they banned smoking indoors. Luckily for Swiss-Germans, there exists a magical place where you can not only smoke inside, away from the cold, but you can also see great independent music acts from all over the world. Not to mention there is a restaurant and club upstairs. Welcome to Südpol, site of last night's fantastic High Places show.

High Places is Rob Barber and Mary Pearson, originally from New York and now based in California. They sound like the baby of Y.A.C.H.T. and Deerhunter. Their unique sound comes from the pair's background - the two met while in their own respective fields at the intersections of visual art and music. Nowadays, the two musicians tour around the world as multi-instrumental act High Places, finding good vegan restaurants (both are vegans), and hanging out at different creative homes for music in small towns along the way.

It's hard not to love them after seeing them - loud percussions set to light, celestial vocals, all paired with interesting visualizations. If it sounds like a mouthful to read, just imagine watching it live.

Surprisingly, it took a while for the Swiss crowd to warm up to High Places, but the woos and claps definitely got louder with time. It was understandable; they are, after all, Swiss, so it comes natural to be neutral to everything. In defense of the Swiss, some friends I was with admitted they hadn't heard of the band before, so the tense-legged group just needed a bit of time to shake their bodies to the new bass heavy, danceable sounds.

High Places just kept doing their thing all the while, rocking out in front of their cool black-and-white visualizations. With drum machines, hand percussions and korg at full blast, the pair created a full body of sound with Mary's reverberating vocals bumping along to Rob's heavy yet crisp beats.

After the set, I got a chance to chat with Rob, who noted that while the crowds may be small, the vibe is always great. The fact that the same people are coming out to shows like this is a testament to the community this sort of music creates. Whether it's California or Switzerland (or even Alaska where Rob was recently), there'll always be a space for talented acts like High Places. It was hard not to succumb to their charm - an array of sounds plus good personalities is just too much.

You can listen to High Place's music on Myspace and be sure to follow them on their blog to find out what they're up to next. Check out Thrill Jockey Records to download and buy their whole discography.
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