Balam Acab: See Birds

[8 August 2011]

By Timothy Gabriele

If everybody forgets about witch house this year, hopefully they’ll still remember Balam Acab.  Of the genre’s micro-stars, Balam Acab shares the least in common with his peers.  There’s little to no influence of southern hip-hop on his music, and none of his tracks seem to be played for creeps or scares.  In fact, the final two tracks of his debut EP See Birds are pleasant and pretty with ample use of twinkling harp and glittery electronics.  Melodically uplifting, “See Birds (Sun)” and “Dream Out” are more in tune with post-shoegaze electronidelica like Caribou than with the warm doomsday amphitheater-assault of My Bloody Valentine.  In addition, as moist as this album gets with its host of squishy samples lining the textural perimeter, there’s nothing here that’s swampy like peers Salem, oOoOO.  The dragged and screwed vocals instead play like cathedral hymns, Gregorian monks backed by creaky keypads and Cimmerian bass lines. Even the purplish-proto-Night Slugs, chiptune arpeggiations on “Regret Making Mistakes” don’t seem so modern amidst the camouflage of impeccable, unearthly sound design.

Balam Acab’s See Birds EP was previously a vinyl-only release, but it made the rounds anyway, even appearing in a L’Oreal ad with Beyonce.  Not bad for a 19-year-old Ithaca College music major from Mechanicsburg, PA.  Hopefully, he will not get left behind in the rush for the next big thing because See Birds suggests that he’s just getting started.

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