Song of the Day: High Places - From Stardust to Sentience

Brittney Bush Bollay

Brittney Bush Bollay

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Every Friday, the Song of the Day Podcast spotlights local musicians. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Afternoon Show host Kevin Cole, is “From Stardust to Sentience” by High Places from their eponymous 2008 Thrill Jockey release.

High Places – From Stardust to Sentience (MP3)

This isn’t the first time you’ve had the chance to read about Mary Pearson and Rob Barber. The two met like any adventurous musical collaboration: at art school. Mary was earning a degree bassoon performance and Rob was teaching etching. Thus, High Places was born.

But can music this good truly be borne by coincidence? High Places inhabit rarified space -- Mary and Rob have the ability to combine experimental melodies with the comforts of indie mainstream. Nothing from the group’s self-titled album or their earlier 2008 release, 03/07 – 09/07 is abrasive and off-putting. High Places aren’t working to make harsh noise or gnarled psych-prog catastrophes. In fact, Rob and Mary have done their best to go in the opposite direction, giving their avant musings lush production and festive tones. The challenge they present listeners is not one of understanding art but rather embrace art. Yet there is no pretense. No arrogance. No sign of pomposity. High Places’ only goal is to make you smile and perhaps to get you to dance. The tune may be quirky but the results are just the same.

According to their MySpace page, High Places are immersed in European travel -- the sort that Rusty and Audrey could get behind. Unless you’re planning on strapping on a backpack and hitting foreign discotheques, may we suggest catching a live video of “From Stardust to Sentience” to get the blood flowing?

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