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All Music Guide:
One of many boy/girl indie electro duos formed in 2006, Rob Barber and Mary Pearson of Brooklyn's High Places approach recording with creative abandon, experimenting with offbeat production techniques like random microphone positioning, pitch shifting, delays, and saturated blankets of reverb to create danceable layers of sound. Playful and peppy, their beats incorporate sparse and hypnotic tribal rhythms, with lyrics that incorporate unusually innocent topics like love letters to Martians and apologies to endangered species. High Places got their break when the Pitchfork music website reviewed their EP and gave the CD a favorable rating, giving Barber and Pearson instant attention. That winter, a West Coast tour with similar-minded artists the Blow and Mirah followed, while High Places' first album remained unfinished. In July of 2008, Thrill Jockey made the band's collection of singles 03/07-09/07 available on CD, and High Places made plans to embark on a summer tour with No Age before releasing their self-titled debut full-length on September 23. After moving to Los Angeles and revamping their sound to include more traditional instrumentation, High Places released their second album, High Places vs. Mankind, in April of 2010. Their third studio album, Original Colors, took a more glossy electro approach and was released in the fall of 2011.
High Places is a band originating from Brooklyn, NY, recently relocated to Los Angeles, CA. The band is a duo comprising multi-instrumentalist Rob Barber and vocalist Mary Pearson.
Pearson and Barber met while Mary was completing a music degree in bassoon performance at Western Michigan University and Rob was working in visual art, teaching lithography and etching in New York. Both were performing as solo musicians at the time, Mary as Transformation Surprise, and Rob as the Urxed. The two began collaborating under the name High Places in May 2006, after Mary relocated to New York.
High Places, has performed at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art the New Museum and the Kitchen in New York City. They have performed at the Smithsonian Institute's Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden as part of Doug Aitken's SONG 1 (2012) in Washington DC. In Berlin they have performed via Volksbühne and Berghain's main room. With Lucky Dragons they have performed collaboratively in the group's 2008 Whitney Biennial performance, as well as at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and REDCAT. Rob has played drums in the Boredoms' 88 Boadrum Los Angeles LACMA performance, and performed as part of the Doug Aitken-curated Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles 2010 benefit.
High Places is almost constantly touring, and have toured with such notable bands such as Deerhunter, No Age, Abe Vigoda, the Blow, Ponytail, Soft Circle, Lucky Dragons, Yacht, Dan Deacon and Xiu Xiu
High Places' overall sound consists of bass-heavy yet crisp beats, lilting vocal melodies, syncopated rhythmic lines performed on folk percussion instruments, guitar duets turned into treated samples, and percussive lines created from the manipulation of household objects. The duo has an “exquisite corpse” style of songwriting where they exchange ideas back and forth, challenging each other's ideas in an organic way.
In a live setting, the band creates their layered recordings with Mary singing and simultaneously manipulating her vocals with various delay and reverb pedals, while playing some hand percussion, recorders, and creating and controlling various loops. Rob handles the music, triggering a variety of percussive sounds with sampling drum pads and traditional samplers, as well as various percussion, wooden blocks with contact mics, and singing some ambient vocals.
High Places’ self-titled debut was recorded by Rob and Mary in their apartment in Brooklyn’s Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood between January and May 2008. In making the album they employed a wide variety of instruments, including 12 string guitar, banjo, shakers and rattles, bass, bells and Kalimba, as well as plastic bags, mixing bowls, wood blocks and other common household objects. Rob created the High Places artwork by using photos taken by both band members.