The Helio Sequence The Helio Sequence
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- 1Battle Lines04:21
- 2Stoic Resemblance03:20
- 3Red Shifting04:13
- 4Upward Mobility03:53
- 5Leave or Be Yours03:13
- 7Inconsequential Ties02:39
- 8Seven Hours02:52
- 9Phantom Shore03:34
- 10Never Going Back03:56
Info for The Helio Sequence
“I’m looking for a new direction,” Brandon Summers croons on “Battle Lines”, the opener to the new self-titled album from Oregon indie pop duo The Helio Sequence. That seeking spirit reflects the inspiration for the album as well: The duo’s friends had been playing the “20-song game,” where participants recorded 20 complete songs in a day. That “first thought, best thought” approach gives The Helio Sequence some of Summers and Benjamin Weikel’s most in-the-moment zeal, and the breezy, layered psychedelia smears by like a summer afternoon through a speeding car window.
There’s a lot of forward momentum created by attempting to record as much material as possible in a short amount of time. Unfortunately, that momentum could also be the culprit behind the fact that, other than slight variations in pacing and Summers’ falsetto, there’s not a ton to differentiate the frustrated heartbreak of “Leave or Be Yours” and the anthemic “Red Shifting”.
The fragile “Seven Hours” stands out for its relative simplicity. Aurora borealis harmonies and synths flutter softly at the background of a straightforward mix of Summers’ vocals, fingerpicked guitar, and Weikel’s propulsive snare. Closer “Never Going Back” sways like a song cut from Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavillion, but with its edges sanded down to match its approachable, inoffensive surroundings.
The hard-charging “Upward Mobility” and hazy jump of “Stoic Resemblance” are the clear highlights, harnessing the energy and powering their interweaving layers. The former asks nervous questions through its rippling guitar and Weikel’s claustrophobic backdrop (“When you go there/ Who will you see?/ Yeah, who will you call?”). The latter, meanwhile, lets a little more air in through the screen door, but is no less anxious. “I got my redemption and I got my disease/ But now I can’t be bothered with reality,” Summers grins as the bass continues to rush ahead, just out of reach.
Releasing a self-titled album multiple records into a band’s career is often taken as a re-introduction to a new self. For The Helio Sequence, it’s a reset of the odometer rather than a definitive statement of destination.“ (Adam Kivel, Consequence of Sound)
'A brisk 10 tracks shape the breathless and magnetic The Helio Sequence, a collection that depends upon an effortless kinetic energy. Crisscrossing vocals and cross-talking guitars and drums map a broad swirl of emotions. There’s a delightful candor to The Helio Sequence, an openness that is a rare and special feat for a band about to enter its third decade.'
Brandon Summers, guitar, vocals
Benjamin Weikel, drums, keyboards
The Helio Sequence
The Portland-based duo Helio Sequence is comprised of vocalist/guitarist Brandon Summers and keyboardist/drummer Benjamin Weikel. Debuting in 1999 with an ambient, psychedelic sound that placed as much emphasis on the guitar as Summers’ muted vocals, the band issued the Accelerated Slow-Motion Cinema EP before dropping the full-length Com Plex in 2000. Helio Sequence’s 100 percent home studio approach allowed for a lot of sonic experimentation, and that aesthetic informed the swirls and layers of their evolving sound. When it did touch the ground, it was at points between My Bloody Valentine, Mouse on Mars, and the weirder side of the Elephant 6 collective. Young Effectuals followed in 2001 before the Helio Sequence jumped from the roster of Cavity Search Records to Sub Pop, releasing the more auspicious Love and Distance in June 2004. The album gave an unprecedented amount of prominence to Summers’ vocals, but the singer was unable to keep his throat in shape on the subsequent tour. He returned to Portland, his voice severely damaged, and was forced to relearn the craft through a series of vocal exercises and lifestyle changes. Taking cues from another raspy-voiced singer, Bob Dylan,Summers steadily regained the use of his vocals, and the Helio Sequence returned in 2008 with Keep Your Eyes Ahead. While on tour in support of the album, the duo’s rented studio/practice space flooded, wiping out some of their gear and leaving them in need of a new space to record and create. The band’s new digs at a remote, disused industrial building offered them the seclusion necessary to experiment and stretch out. The results of these insular experiments informed the more patient, languid sound of 2012’s Negotiations.
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