Imperial China (Washington, DC) will release its third record, How We Connect, on Sockets Records on limited-edition vinyl LP. Recorded by Devin Ocampo (Medications, Faraquet, Mary Timony Band, Beauty Pill) in the summer of 2011, How We Connect is the culmination of an 8-month hiatus from live shows – a big break for one of DC’s most active live bands – as well as a sharper focus on songwriting. On How We Connect, the band forced itself to rethink its musical process and lyrical themes. The goal: create a cohesive album instead of just a collection of songs.
“I think we wanted to move away from some of the dancier music we'd previously written,” says Brian Porter (Vocals, Guitar, Electronics), “and write something that is more raw and noisier than our previous material.” Raw is maybe the best way to begin with How We Connect. Yet as writing and practicing commenced, the raw energy from Imperial China’s live shows gave way to an equal influence rooted in the glittered guitar interplay of Matthew Johnson (Guitar, Bass) and Porter. And as a sound for How We Connect emerged, the controlled pummel of Patrick Gough’s drumming leant a shape to the band’s dichotomous balance between the raw and beautiful.
“Limbs”, the first single from How We Connect, concentrates the band’s sound into two and a half minutes of pure guitar powder keg – equal parts energy and economy. According to Johnson, “’Limbs’ is a realization of how I envisioned our sound when we started this band.” If “Limbs” is the realization of what Imperial China is supposed to sound like, then “In a House In a Head” gives a glimpse at how the band is expanding its honed sound. The expansive, atmospheric intro of “In a House” slowly gives way to a relentless pounding, marked by the glittery guitar interplay of Porter and Johnson – a sound the two have come to define as their own.
These first two songs serve as a harbinger of what’s to come. One of the best examples of the new focus on songwriting dates back to the first few songs the band wrote in 2007. “Redux”, a re-tooled track from the band’s first EP, Methods, was heaved into the new, more mature, and complex style of songwriting. The evolution of the track from its previous title “Space Anthem” to the newly mature “Redux” is stunning.
As the album comes to a close, “Bird Calls” emerges as one of the prettiest songs ever written by the band. And on How We Connect, it fits perfectly. A beautiful guitar melody patiently loops while the menacing sound of gurgling noise broils underneath. All along Gough’s drumming drives each new melodic element with precision. As in the other songs on the album, “Bird Calls” can show both restraint and all-out bombast. How We Connect shows a band comfortable in its own skin. The band found its sweet spot between raw and beautiful.
released January 28, 2012
How We Connect was recorded, produced, mixed and mastered by Devin Ocampo at Inner Ear and Treehouse Studios between May – August 2011
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