Gardens & Villa play the Boot & Saddle in Philly on Friday, Feb. 21, the Middle East Upstairs in Cambridge, MA on Saturday, Feb. 22 and the Music Hall of Williamsburg on Tuesday, Feb. 25. (Credit: Neil Favila) About three and half-hours west of Detroit, sits the small town of Benton Harbor. There, in the dead of winter, five Southern California beachside natives and well-known British producer Tim Goldsworthy, holed up in a locksmith building-turned-music studio to create what is now Gardens & Villa’s new album, “Dunes.”
After 30 days of recording, during which countless nights were spent watching Chinese cinema and listening to copious amounts of Prince, the group has fashioned an album that is not only seeming of the band’s usual psychedelic leaning, but reveals a significant progression towards a more new wave sound. While “Dunes” preserves Gardens & Villa’s flute, keyboard, and synth-driven melodies, an added electronic vibe thrusts their new album into a realm of organic and nostalgic rhythms.
“A lot of our songs come from jams. We’ll get to the space, get inspired by whatever means we find necessary and record these blown-out iPhone recordings that are 12 minutes long,” says synth player Adam Rasmussen. “The trick is keeping it pure once you have the ability to start layering stuff.”
Since their self-titled debut in 2011, Gardens & Villa has garnered a natural inertia to popularity. One that not only carried them into the highly regarded arms of indie label, Secretly Canadian, but landed them an opening slot for The Shins and led to their most recent, and otherwise unlikely opportunity to work with Goldsworthy, who is best known for his work with Cut Copy and LCD Soundsystem.
“When we first Skyped with him it was kind of like, ‘what the f—! I’m really talking to Tim Goldsworthy right now?’” says Rasmussen of his first meeting with the producer.
After having seen a live video, Goldsworthy was immediately charmed by the band’s funky dance music.
“I remember him saying that in a music industry that has become so far weighted to electronic and dance music made by one producer, we were there making the same type of danceable music, but as a band,” says Rasmussen. “He was eager to make a band record as opposed to the electronic projects he’s been involved with over the years.”
Worthy of Goldsworthy Things in the studio were often hectic and impromptu, with Goldsworthy at helm of all its chaos. “He’s kind of in another realm,” says Rasmussen. “He’s sharp and focused for all the tracking, but at the same time he’s cueing up random songs or films that he thinks might be resonating with our performances. He has a way of thinking about the bigger picture and what kind of final touches are going to be necessary for a track. He’s brilliant and pretty eccentric.”