TOGETHER, YET apart. In sync, yet in separate rooms. Galway indie-rock/folk/underground collective CUBS have never taken a conventional approach to recording, but it always produces warm, and rewarding results.
CUBS are visual artist/singer-songwriter Cecilia Danell; singer-songwriter Aaron Hurley; multi-instrumentalist James Rider; and musician/producer Keith Wallace. The collective has joined forces again for it's new album, Frozen Waterfall - which also features contributions from multi-instrumentalist Scott McLaughlin and a field recording by the poet Elaine Cosgrove - and which is out tomorrow [Friday July 3] on independent Galway label, Rusted Rail.
Clocking in at just 32 minutes, Frozen Waterfall is a beguiling, atmospheric, at times poignant, yet ultimately uplifting synthesis of 1970s style folk-rock, indie-rock, lof-fi, ambient, underground, and melodic singer-songwriter. Despite its many disparate elements, they fuse together comfortably and naturally.
This is all the more impressive given these elements were recorded separately, with none of the musicians in the same room. "Although it was created during the lockdown, recording remotely and then stitching it all together is always the way CUBS have made music," Keith tells the Advertiser.
"In that sense it's not really a product of the pandemic. It was great to get all members of CUBS working together, yet apart, sending music from one home to another and winding up with a new album."
'It's very intuitive and of the moment. I enjoy responding to other people's work as it makes me think outside of myself'
Cecilia sees the diversity of approaches, and the manner in which Keith is able to edit them together, as something which sets CUBS apart, but Also gives them an edge.
"It makes for good tunes, despite the members being scattered with varying involvement," she says. "The album coming together was such a quick process that not too much thought went into it on my part - in a good way!. I guess I would describe it as being very intuitive and of the moment. I enjoy the process of responding to other people's work as it makes me think outside of myself."
'These are uncertain times and I reckon the music on Frozen Waterfall will prove to be a welcome distraction from the way things are'
Another strength of CUBS is that despite their passion for the avant-garde and the underground, they never let these elements come at the expense of melody, tunefulness, and a lightness of touch, and this in turn gives the music accessibility and heart.
'The Beaten Path Through The High Grass' features an arresting, sprightly, mandolin riff from Aaron, of which Planxty or The Incredible String Band would approve. A similar vibe runs through opener, 'Bramble Ramble', with Aaron, James, and Cecilia each contributing on guitar.
"Keith messaged me asking if I can do some overdubs on some recordings James had done," recalls Aaron. "When I was recording, I was remembering times when we played in the same room. At some point, it felt like James was in the room. It was kind of spooky, maybe it was the lockdown psychosis."
Of the songs, the stand-outs are Aaron's 'The Heat That Lies', a haunting lo-fi indie number with striking lyrics ("the children play like they are crying...like they know another world" ), and Cecilia's 'And The Wind', a song which so perfectly captures it's subject, a listener may feel inclined to hug a blanket closer to themselves.
"These are uncertain times and I reckon the music on Frozen Waterfall will prove to be a welcome distraction from the way things are," says Keith. "I think the album is a coherent half hour sonic trip and hopefully everyone will enjoy taking the ride."
Frozen Waterfall certainly is Keith, it certainly is.