Week in Pop: Ed Askew, José Díaz Rohena, LUKA, Midnight Opera

Sjimon Gompers

The prolific José Díaz Rohena steps out from behind the mixing board to showcase new material; photographed by Sarah Macreading.

I Come To Shanghai

Exclusive reflections from I Come to Shanghai; press photo courtesy of the artists.

Athens, Georgia’s I Come To Shanghai presents us with a listen to their lauded new album Low Pressure available now. Robert Ashley & Sam Frigard illustrate the very epitome of the low-anxiety nightmare where we witness the lost paradises, the shrugged atlases & fallen empires that sink down beneath the sea level toward those familiar fates of former Atlantis-like glories that now glow with their own respective & forgotten glories & encapsulated histories.

Low Pressure is measured in senses & terms of unforgiving cycles styled through a variety of electronic instrumentation. The notion of nautical vessels passing one another in the dead of the night is displayed on the opening introductory instrumental “Two Ships”, before excavating things that get lost on the mineral encrusted gem mausoleum of “Buried in the Sound”, before kicking it old school on the elusive 80s-esque “Stranger”. Cinematic segments arise on “Local Color”, to the ebb & flow instrumental of “Fluid Power”, finding passages & direction in influential others on “You’re My Way Home”, to the pleas of presence on “Stick Around”, before beholding the bizarre beauty of “Slow World”, right as everything gets dramatic on “Swept Out in the Storm”. I Come To Shanghai explores a barrage of expressive experimentation throughout Low Pressure, as heard on the confrontational & cyclical “You’re Out of Your Mind”, to the desert night journey of “Delayed Departure”, to the emotive & inquisitive “How Are You to Know?”, right before the electronic exeunt of “Portus”.

Robert from I Come To Shanghai penned the following exclusive reflections on the new album Low Pressure:

Low Pressure was kind of a joke. Sam and I had been making music together for years. We had quit our jobs and moved across the country to a town where we knew nobody, and we made no attempt to meet other people. Unless you count bartenders. We spent two years totally immersed in our little studio space chasing all our craziest ideas, which became Eternal Life Vol 1 & 2. That record has absolutely no restraint. Folk songs that turn into synth pop, modular soundscapes, guitar solos, vocoder baby voices, randomized compositions, porn samples, field recordings… We were so jazzed about all the crazy stuff we could do with just the two of us, and we let it all fly. Listening back, I’m really proud of that record. But right after it came out, we felt like we had basically taken a big ugly shit in public.

Our reaction was to get back to our most natural moods and sounds. We wanted to keep it simple. Something a band could play if we ever managed to behave like musicians who actually wanted to succeed. We’ve always had a bit of a tropical bent. Like from the moment Sam and I started playing together. I have no idea why. But while I was mixing Eternal Life Vol 2, Sam had a manic episode, and he started writing all of these sad tropical songs. A new one every day. He started wearing Hawaiian shirts to the studio, and he bought this big beach scene print from the thrift store and hung it in the corner of the studio. I got pulled into his orbit and started trying to match his mood in songs of my own. Over time, the original mandate to keep things simple got lost somewhere, and we made a double-LP full of huge, elaborate compositions. But we did, at least, keep our focus on the feeling of those sad tropical songs. Songs about spoiled paradise. It took years to finish, but when we were done, the album felt timely. Sam took the beach picture off the studio wall and slashed it up. A photo of it became the cover.

I Come To Shanghai’s new album Low Pressure is available now.

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