New York City, New York, USA
BandAlternativeDream Pop

”A game between the acoustic and electronic. A trip between space and earth. Corbu leads us in the middle of everything. Where there are no benchmarks. Where all the world is lost. Where we do not know what is joy or pain (as we play in between).” - French blog Mets-toi a la page


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From the Guardian, March 31, 2014:

Corbu's mainman Jonathan Graves is a bit of a dreamer. A lot of a dreamer. He's always had, he says, "intense and lucid dreams" since he was a boy, and they've grown in meaning as he's got older. These days, he finds it increasingly hard distinguishing from his waking and dream states. "The world you experience when you're dreaming is physically real in some way," he says. "I don't understand it, but for me, it's a parallel reality to our normal, waking consciousness – one where time doesn't exist and dead relatives can hang out with you."

What he just said there makes sense when you hear Corbu's music - it's dreamy but with an eerie undertow you might expect from someone who hangs out in dream-land with expired family members. You can't tell much from the fact that Graves, who teaches music to kids when he's not making music for adults, took Corbu's name from Le Corbusier, the French writer, designer and painter who is also said to be one of the pioneers of modern architecture. Then again, we've seen him referred to twice as an "archi-texturalist" so someone likes the idea of him bringing architectural theory to bear on the areas of sound construction and textural invention.

Turns out he does approach sound in an interesting - and interested - way. He samples movies and, breaking the sample down into smaller pieces, uses the fragments as notes. It could be an actor's laugh, a spaceship's whoosh, or a bugle blast. "Using the same rationale as sampling a drum beat or a vocal melody," explains Graves, "we can grab a movie sound with all of its noisy film grain and strange imperfections and make something musical with it." The best example of a sample that he cites is the bit from Star Wars where Luke Skywalker practises his lightsabre technique.

Anyway, this information, plus the knowledge that Graves likes "bright, vivid colours that look like they've aged and faded away, almost like a memory of them", sort of does and doesn't enhance one's enjoyment of Corbu's music. It's etiolated, spacey electronica with guitars, topped off with soft, murmuring vocals, with crackles and hiss for extra atmos. Graves has talked about wanting Corbu to be like Boards Of Canada circa Geogaddi, only with guitars, while comparisons have been drawn with Panda Bear and Animal Collective in general. The songs are influenced by Graves's childhood love of nature and science fiction, and there's a patina of non-specific, irreligious spirituality that comes from being bombarded with the Beatles' All You Need Is Love as a kid. The songs are swirly and hypnotising, lulling you into a dream state, with pastel shades of Slowdive on Sunwaves, the opening track on their We Are Sound EP, and echoes of R.E.M. on the title track, their most conventional pop-rock moment to date. Believe the Lie is harmonically very pretty and Fields and Flowers signals a departure into slow R&B jam territory. But the clicks and the sound of children's laughter sustain the mood and the faded-memory theme. Zane Lowe apparently went gaga when he heard We Are Sound, declaring it "really really really really really really good!" We'd have left it at five "reallys" but he's not miles wide of the mark. Just watch out for the deceased relatives.


2014 - We Are Sound EP