bark94 · CD / DIGITAL / LP · Barsuk Records · February 2010
Phantogram's music sounds like it's made by a band from the city. Electronic loops, hip-hop beats, shoegaze, soul, pop each finds its way into their songs. Unexpectedly, the band doesn't live and work in a major urban center, but rather calls the town of Saratoga Springs, NY (population 26,186) home. Despite the cultural influence of local Skidmore College (where fellow beat-experimenters Ratatat formed) and a relatively small scene of adventurous musicians and listeners, Saratoga isn't exactly teeming with fans of J. Dilla, My Bloody Valentine or Serge Gainsbourg. But Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel, the duo that make up Phantogram, have flourished in Saratoga. In fact, the town itself isn't rural enough for their taste they drive almost every day another 45 minutes into upstate farmland to a barn they call Harmony Lodge to write and record. Serving as their homemade studio/practice space/think-tank/bat-cave, the barn is equipped with various samplers, tapes, records, synths, drums, and both percussive and stringed instruments, and it's there that Phantogram allows their natural surroundings and metropolitan influences to meld together creating beautiful, beat-driven dreamlike pop songs.