Friday, December 28, 2012


Pretty crazy choral arrangements from this Seattle-based band...every one of them a music major, either composition or performance, but don't let that scare you off. (I used to dread getting no-name CDs from people who'd gone to Berklee, all skill no heart mostly.)

Anyway, my review is up since yesterday at Blurt, which is still running reviews, even now, deep into holiday vacation week.

Brighten & Break

Pollens, from Seattle, set contrapuntal choral arrangements to syncopated Saharan beats, working an undeniable groove with discipline and intellectual rigor. They're often compared to Dirty Projectors, but you can also make links to the vocal intricacies of Petra Hayden, the colorful, communal polyrhythms of Skeletons, Akron Family or Starring.

Pollens is a band full of music majors. Founders Hanna Benn and Jeff Aaron Bryant met in 2008 while studying composition Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. Bassist Lena Simon and keyboard player Whitney Lyman, who joined later, were also composition majors while Kelly Wyse, another keyboardist, studied performance for piano, and drummer Adam Kozie majored in jazz percussion.

The skill - and training - shows up in the extreme precision of even Pollens' most exuberant moments. The off-the-deep-end close of "Splinters and Pointheads" for instance, with its manic percussion, syncopated group shouts and one guy yelling "Head! Head! Head!...Pointhead! Pointhead!" over and again is exciting the way a rollercoaster is exciting. Moreover, like a rollercoaster, no matter how many sharp turns it takes, it stays firmly on the tracks.


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