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On Deck: Lapland

By ; May 9, 2013 at 3:48 PM 


Lapland is the Brooklyn-based bedroom pop moniker of songwriter and producer Josh Mease.  His multi-faceted approach to production gives him the leeway to combine seemingly incongruous sounds into something that not only fits together perfectly but feels emotionally resonant and inclusive toward the listener. Drawing on artists like The Beach Boys and Fleetwood Mac, as well as classical composers like Debussy and Ravel, Mease never allows his focus to stagnate and maintains an acute eye toward composition even when treading across multiple genres—many times within the same song.  He recently released his latest album of introspective pop reflections on Hundred Pocket Records, and you can stream it in full over at his Bandcamp page.

Mease recently spoke with Beats Per Minute about a few of his favorite records, including the 2012 release Fear Fun from Father John Misty, the David Byrne compiled Brazilian Classics Vol. 4 featuring Tom Ze, and a choose-your-own-favorite-album suggestion for any of Stevie Wonder’s records from  Music Of My Mind through Fulfillingness’ First Finale. He also threw in a Debussy recommendation, as well as an album of synthesizer-based classical interpretations from Mort Garson.  These records swing back and forth between genres like an enormous Newton’s cradle, and Mease’s penchant for blending genres should really come as no surprise considering these rather disparate influences. Check out his reasons for including these particular releases below in the latest in our series of On Deck features.

Tom Ze - Brazilian Classics 4
Tom Ze – Brazilian Classics 4 – Compiled By David Byrne

I came across this record a few years ago, and listened to it obsessively for months and months. His proper records can be uneven at times, but every track on this compilation is great. All the tracks are culled from a few records from the 70’s. The songwriting is amazing, as are his innovative arrangements, and the recordings are fantastic. I think not understanding Portuguese makes me enjoy the record even more.

Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder – Any Record From Music Of My Mind thru Fulfillingness’ First Finale

These records changed the way I thought about making music. They were my soundtrack when I first moved up to NYC. Stevie’s harmonic and melodic language made a deep impression, and my inner only child immediately responded to the sound of a great singer/songwriter playing most of the parts by himself on his recordings. I love the way Stevie genre-hops from track to track while still sounding like himself – putting everything through his own unique set of personal filters.

Mort Garson - Plantasia
Mort Garson – Plantasia

I’ve listened to this record so many times that I’ve had to put it down for the foreseeable future. There are lots of old synth records from the 60’s and 70’s that sound rich and beautiful, but I think Mort’s records are a little different because he can really write original music. I love synthy re-imaginings of Bach and Debussy as much as anyone else, but there’s something special about hearing music that was written by someone with a strong voice specifically for an instrument (in this case the Moog).

Father John Misty - Fear Fun
Father John Misty – Fear Fun

I heard this sometime last year, and the songs have been cycling through my brain ever since. I love how visual the lyrics are – they remind me of time I’ve spent traveling out west. There’s a very Nilsson-esque quality to some of the stuff, but it never feels like too much of a ripoff. Jonathan Wilson really did a great job with the production.

Claude Debussy’s Children’s Corner Suite for flute, harp and cello (Carlos Salzedo Version)

I recorded this off of YouTube months ago because I couldn’t find it for sale anywhere else. I must’ve listened to it a thousand times. It’s a beautiful piece of music, and I’m always a sucker for recordings that sound like they were unearthed during an archaeological excavation. I’ve listened to a bunch of other versions of this same piece that were recorded in a more modern hi-fi setting, and while the piece is always beautiful the other versions don’t have nearly as much character.

Lapland’s self-titled debut is out now on Hundred Pockets Records.

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