The duo Partygoers took inspiration for their new record from summers in the woods, up the Cable Creek Valley near Georgetown Lake, to be exact.
Aaron Johnson and Charlie Apple used field recorders to capture the vibe of the mountains, from rain patter and wind rustling trees to small vocal outtakes. They used these to create a sonic bed for — what else? — an electro house record, that grooves and moves as ably as any dance recording that sounds right at home in the club.
Take “Pine Beetles’ ” dub synths, which wobble over a bed of keys that all kick in following the roar of a chainsaw. The breakdown consists of live drumming outtakes, before the track resumes its throaty bounce, ending with the same chainsaw.
“Harmony Box” uses some nice sonar echo pings over what sounds like a manipulated guitar line and some reverb-y drums, which shape-shift to a clattery headphones beat.
Partygoers pack a lot into each track — “Cable Creek” racks cawing birds on top of a hi-hat and uses rain patter that falls away to a muffled bass line that then builds right back up all within the 3-minute mark. Extended dance mixes these are not, though with as many layers and natural sounds the duo use, it would be interesting to hear a longer version, with a slower build that highlights each layer stacking up on top of each other.
As it is, the 20-minute record works just as well as a single extended track of its own right — the thumping house vibe is only broken up once or twice and all the songs flow well enough from one to the next.
The short interstitials cover everything from Apple and Johnson discussing finding an old bottle of Bulleit whiskey, to the crackle and pop of a campfire; fun outtakes that swing the record back to its pine-scented roots every time the electronics draw the listener in too deep.
Partygoers opine in their album description that house music has perhaps never been linked to the Mountain West. I can’t speak entirely to that, but the idea of inspiration from summers in the trees leading to the head-bobbing synths of “Pine Beetle” is a very different tack from the usual route that takes one from field recordings to ambient music.
The pair perform live with Apple on a drum kit, which is a smart move for a couple of reasons — first, live drums add surprising depth to electronic music (take a look at groups like Hundred Waters or album release show openers Nobide) and it’s a good way to bring an acoustic element to “Cable Creek,” which, for all of its mountaintop interstitials, feels ripe for a good laser show.
I wonder if the Top Hat will let them bring a real chainsaw on stage to complete the effect.