We at Pop Press Intl are honored to announce Pittsburgh’s delicious pastries is back with its long-awaited follow-up to 2011’s Pretty Please, an eight song sophomore LP titled aleatoric delay, released on the cryptic Totally Snakes record label, perhaps the esoteric indie imprint of the greater record conglomerate that exists only in the minds of singer Jonathan Chamberlain and drummer Jesse Ley. After five years, the band has released a composition that shifts dynamically, analog synthesizers peppering the mercurial sonic concoction that is a delicious pastry. We must first consider what “aleatoric” means to the title. Basically, it refers specifically to music that relies on the performer’s improvisational mood, rather than rote synthesis. The second half of the title, “delay,” becomes modified by improvisation, resulting in a title that suggests time is perhaps the greatest influence in the art we create. That after five years, writing songs and recording them becomes bent and obscured to illuminate an idea that is perhaps more of an accident or confluence of abstract ideas in the mind of the musician who wasn’t aware of the destination initially, that the map could only be zoomed in so far.
The album opens with a swelling synthesizer and descending chord progression, lead guitar bending like an early brit-pop guitar solo not unlike Oasis, but with more psychedelia than coke-fueled angst. More Beta Band sunshine/shade contrast. The cyclical chords and warbled tremolo-vocals set us up for many shifts and course changes while adding an extra dose of production quality compared to the first record, an intentional decision Ley informs me. The record was mixed by bass player Vincent Poprocky, who creates a lush soundscape using reverb to create depth and mood, particularly on interluding tracks “Luxury Arch,” “Fabled Misgivings,” and “Divine Communication.” Effect-laden vocals and hard-panned instrumentation create a Stereolab meets Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys California perspective on the European synth-pop, resulting in a technicolor collage of fuzz guitars, bitcrushed synthesizers, and chasms dripping with reverb. The instrumentals demonstrate the band’s attempt at creating a cohesive suit tied together by thematic aleatoric phrases coloring the band’s sonic rambles.
Fantastic arrangements and production points make songs like “Exactly As It Seems” stand strong as the main protein of the multi-course presentation. Humorous paradoxical ideas remain part of the delicious pastry recipe; “You know I need everything exactly as it seems,” sings Chamberlain, which at once suggests open interpretation and intentional folly. This supports the album’s title, which concedes a portion of the final result to a higher power, one that may not exist as a preconceived notion, but certainly becomes revealed as an obvious result of concerted effort by a group of talented creators. “Invisible River” is another example of superb arrangements by the band, with warped, synthesized string patches meshing with flutes and fingerpicked acoustic guitar. I felt like I was in Led Zeppelin’s “The Rain Song” if John Paul Jones was given full discretion. Perhaps this is what makes delicious pastries so, er, delicious. At once familiar, the taste is new and refreshing. To extend the metaphor, the band has been slow-cooking its musical ideas by tirelessly playing live shows, putting itself in the opening slot for many high-profile touring bands coming through Pittsburgh. Promoters pick the most popular item on the menu for its deeply complex flavors that have coalesced into a synergistic transcendental relish to be applied to any musical coursing. The album closes with the sweet “Radial Blur,” a triumphant hizzah! that plays with a Harrison-esque chorus as Chamberlain coos over a descending chord progression. Before drifting off into the sweet surf, the song ends passionately while Chamberlain sings, “It’s always night before it is the morning,” and then cleverly, “It’s always night especially when you’re mourning,” as fuzz guitars swell into the cyclical movement of the final track.
aleatoric delay is a fine example of the talented, conceptual artistry that can be found in Pittsburgh today. Catch the band tonight as they release this record. Physical copies are available to anyone who pays the cover. Joining them are three bands that have all released new material already this year. Meeting of Important People, Shaky Shrines, and Butterbirds. The music starts at nine; don’t leave your night up to chance, make it your business to see this historic night.
Stream the album in its entirety below: