Is/Is, “Before The Stars”

Amelia Pitcherella

The Portland-via-Minneapolis self-described “witchgaze” group Is/Is of Sarah Rose and Sarah Nienaber, accompanied by drummer Mara Appel, invite you to “weave with rainbow ties to your heart, pull it out, and devour in an ecstasy of violence and humanizing passion.”

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They’ve been channeling hazy psych pop and garage rock sounds since their first EP in 2010. For old fans of the group, then, their new sound may come as a shock. Is/Is has retained the haziness but turned their dials down for a much more delicate sound on their upcoming release, Shadow Days.

The first track on the album, “Before The Stars”, mostly feels like an overcast evening before a storm… after which, maybe some stars will peek through. It combines a steady rhythm of acoustic guitar and tambourine with a thick blanket of heavily reverberant voices that recall Warpaint. Synth notes cross each other in the background, their occasional dissonance with the vocals conjuring a quiet sense of eeriness. Later in the track, the sound of heavy sighs emerges out of the texture of the song, or maybe it’s the hard crash of waves onto a shore. Either way, the lull of the duo’s echoing voices submerged in their spectral ocean of instrumentation is enough to put you in a trance.

Shadow Days will be out on limited-edition cassette September 23 through Moon Glyph. Stream “Before The Stars” below.

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