Oakland, CA. USA.
About Of Loving Grace
“a near-perfect rock record” – Tiny Mix Tapes’ Cerberus
“an interesting post-punk take on psychedlia…there’s something about this record that really gets me.” – The Wire
“a fascinating album, swirling post-punk angularism in a pink and purple fog of drowsy psychedelia.” – The Big Takeover
- Friday, August 30th. Portland, OR @ Turn, Turn, Turn. Antiquated Future Records Showcase.
- Saturday, August 31st. Seattle, WA @ Ink Knife. Private Event. DM for details.
- Sunday, Sept. 1st. Clinton, WA @ Private location.
DM for details.
Oakland’s Flying Circles, in pursuing their lush sonorous ends, have a rare enigmatic subtlety: they can grasp ambient calm without leaning on reverb ennui or sleep-inducing stasis, can employ technical prowess without sacrificing conviction. The band’s work would be conveniently, and by obvious counts correctly, shelved in the vague morass of indie rock—guitar-lead, synth-bolstered, drums-driven. Yet their debut album, In Loving Grace, harnesses that template with distorted and delirious textures, a buoyant and confounding rhythm section, and prismatic lyrics lettered by an unconventional and technically astounding voice.
Opener “Sleepwalker” skitters into the frame with drum clicks and yoked guitar, singer-guitarist Colleen Johnson culling a character confronted by an unwelcome voice, then lighting the chorus with the bone dry muted power chords like that of Cat Power’s ‘He War’ before erupting in cascading arpeggios. “Day-Glo Queen” is built on elliptical Fela Kuti percussion, burbling synth mapping out an enchanting minor-key Juana Molina-like 6/8 groove that Johnson tip-toes around with both ease and severity. And at the record’s most somber point, the gorgeous “Hidden Mountain” carves a massive foggy vantage, the guitars evoking a deforested clearing where Johnson’s melodies have space to crystalize.
On drums, the rhythmic inventiveness of Evan Hashi (former drummer for Calvin Johnson’s Hive Dwellers) can evoke the splintered shadows of Women (“Til the World Turns Over”) or the shuddering motorik syncopation of Can (“Arachnibs”), also taking a turn at lead vocals to sweeten the mic over triumphant and smoldering synth patches (“Green Ennui”). Preston Bryant (who serves as a utility player for AJJ and Treasure Fleet) is at his best synth duties on “Diamond Eye”, harboring galactic drones above the guitar buzz caterwaul. One significant component of Flying Circles’ charm is Bryant’s expert synth textures—built on a battalion of classic Moog, Kawaii and Korg machines—at times informed by Georgio Moroder’s disco palette (“Arachnibs”) and Air’s subtle dream pop (“Til the World Turns Over”).
But at the fore is Johnson’s voice, capable of both whispered proximity and soaring largesse. A Washington native who was previously active in the Pacific Northwest DIY scene, Johnson’s style is unmistakably immersed in the region’s inventive and esoteric folk tradition (like Mirah or Phil Elverum), possessing a mezzo-soprano that bisects Karen Dalton and K Records. Johnson sings of disaster, flames and towering mountains to portray a crumbling earth under the predation of capitalism, her narrators pulling on severed ties.
All of this substance still stands on incremental shifts and measured tones, songs that resonate in simple terms. Flying Circles need not struggle to beckon an affecting sound.
Flying Circles is currently Colleen Johnson and Preston Bryant, veering into the realms of synth-based and post-everything vernacular.