Chicago's very own Pillars and Tongues have just released their new track 'Points Of Light' which premiered on Brooklyn Vegan Chicago. Frontman Mark Trecka's even baritone glides above a thick bass line, as he's colorfully countered by co-vocalist Beth RemisPillars and Tongues have just announced a Fall tour with Angel Olsen. Their new LP "End-dances" is out September 17th on Empty Cellar Records.
1. Knifelike 2. Dogs 3. Bell + Rein 4. Points of Light 5. Medora 6. Travel 7. Ends
Sep 20 - Chicago, IL - The Chicago Cultural Center
Sep 21 - Cleveland, OH - Ingenuity Festival
Sep 24 - Pittsburgh, PA - Andy Warhol Museum *
Sep 26 - Toronto, ON - The Drake Hotel *
Sep 27 - Montreal, QC - Pop Montreal Festival
Sep 28 - Portland, ME - Space Gallery*
Sep 29 - Hudson, NY - Basilica *
Oct 1- Northampton, MA - Iron Horse Music Hall *
Oct 2 - Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda's *
Oct 4 - Boston, MA - Museum Of Fine Arts *
Oct 5 - Purchase, NY - The Stood *
Oct 6 - Washington, DC - DC9 *
Oct 7 - Richmond, VA - Strange Matter *
Oct 8 - Athens, GA - Normaltown Hall *
Oct 10 - Lexington, KY - Cosmic Charlies *
Oct 11 - Indianapolis, IN - White Rabbit Caberet *
Oct 12 - Chicago, IL - The Burlington
* w/ Angel Olsen
Praise For Pillars And Tongues:
“Singer Mark Trecka has a deep, sonorous baritone that can carry the long notes . . . with a wizened authority. The band uses vocals almost like stringed instruments, which become even more noticeable when violins are added to their chanting" --Pitchfork
"Pillars and Tongues’ music always has one foot in the avant-garde, while never completely abandoning pop, which in this case is gloomy, dark, and dreamy, almost cinematic, evoking pictures of lost and doomed landscapes." ---Henning Lahmann, No Fear of Pop"
"Pillars and Tongues cite Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Mexican filmmaker Carlos Reygadas, W.G. Sebald, and Interstate 25 among their primary influences. It's an eclectic list, but one indicative of the furrowed contemplation and entrancing horizon lines conjured by these Chicago experimentalists" --San Francisco Bay Guardian
“Mark Trecka, Elizabeth Remis and Evan Hydzik create a communication between themselves and the spirits and it sometimes sounds like two old windmills talking to each other in code. It sounds like slow, wavering flames of fire and the cool air of an abandoned cave" -- Daytrotter
What makes Chicago’s Pillars and Tongues so enchanting is the disarming alchemy with which the ensemble stirs up its otherworldly song. Straddling the vocal out-of-body keening of Daniel Higgs and the levitating musical atomic peace of Alice Coltrane at her most drone-leaning" -- Baltimore City Paper
End-dances is the new album by Pillars and Tongues on Empty Cellar Records. Although from Chicago, Beth Remis, Ben Babbitt, and Mark Trecka have spent much of the last few years traveling, performing music in a wide variety of contexts, exploring the severe and sublime landscapes of America, and returning to or refusing to return to variations on the theme of home.
Recorded by Theo Karon, End-dances leaps forward in the direction implied by the last full-length,The Pass and Crossings, and the recent cassette, If Travel is Asked of Me. Long-form compositions are coerced into considered and patiently constructed songs, resulting in their most pop-oriented work to date. But in that, the work allies with the darker, stranger side of the pop realm, evoking the drama and atmosphere of Dead Can Dance, and the art-prog experimentation of Peter Gabriel’s 4. The characteristic harmonium and violin blend with enveloping synths, undulating loops and gated rhythms of hazy origin.
Karon's adventurous engineering is apparent throughout the record; the band’s attention to the expressive potential of the sounds themselves is supported by mesmeric tape loops, saturated vocal echoes, and vibrant tones coaxed from radically transformed sources. Points of intersection between the acoustic and the electronic are embraced, calling the assumed organic nature of a drum and the artifice of a synthesizer into question. Loping, hypnotic rhythms give way to cinematic ambient passages, receding to reveal, again and again, the voices, with Trecka’s bold baritone in the lead. Remis’ voice -- central and refined -- conjures, floats, and skitters, at varying points harmonizing with and countering Trecka’s lead, as both chant against Babbitt’s croon.
The lyrics are poetic, exploring themes of ambivalence, health and the acts of writing and singing. ‘Knifelike’ reads like a less optimistic version of Kate Bush’s ‘Love and Anger’, flirting with tender descriptions of metaphorical violence: “My lines, knifelike impressions of your life / give teeth to timelines / cut knuckles testify”. ‘Bell + Rein’ is an acknowledged homage to Leonard Cohen’s ‘Take This Longing’, reiterating an infamous desire to not desire. ‘Medora’ and ‘Travel’ are both hallucinatory descriptions of travel as an act of self-actualization. “I ride through / to follow / where I go”.‘Ends’ evokes the elegiac melancholy of William Basinski, pitting a single thin and unadorned violin against a torrent of tape-garbled pianos.
Pitchfork conceded in 2010 that “it’s difficult to talk about influences or genres with Pillars and Tongues, and almost as hard to talk about their sound.” And The Chicago Tribune has said that the group “defies easy categorization, unless you're looking in that bin marked ‘essential.” While affinities may be noted with contemporaries like Julia Holter, Liars and others working creatively with tone, texture, and ambience, in the context of voice-driven songwriting, Pillars and Tongues cuts a singular path through the contemporary musical landscape.
'End-dances' is released on September 17th on Empty Cellar Records (US) and Murailles Music (Europe).