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      Darlingside in Seattle

      • Darlingside Photo #1
      1 of 1
      March 8, 2019

      Friday   7:00 PM

      925 E Pike Street
      Seattle, Washington 98122


      with River Whyless
      The word extraordinary is defined as something beyond, amazing, or incredible. The word extralife doesnt exist. But in the world of Darlingsideanother previously non-existent wordits all about invention, expansion, and elevating everything into the realm of the extraordinary both conceptually and through musical performance.The bands new album Extralife intensifies the journey begun on its critically acclaimed 2015 album Birds Say. On that project, Darlingsides quartet of bassist Dave Senft, guitarist/banjoist Don Mitchell, violinist/mandolinist Auyon Mukharji, and cellist/guitarist Harris Paseltiner fused assertions (Go Back), assumptions (God Of Loss), predictions (The Ancestor), projections (Do You Ever Live?) and reflections (White Horses). We put our four heads together and created this collective consciousness about bits and pieces from our past and how we saw the world based upon reminiscences, explains Paseltiner about that sojourn. It having been the Massachusetts groups second full-length outing, Birds Say mastered a musical and lyrical path that led to the more challenging territory explored on Extralife. Mukharji describes the Extralife concept as ...a life beyond where we are now, whether that's a brand new thing, a rebirth, or just a new version of ourselves as we move forward. So by abandoning Birds Says nostalgia and its tales of what once was, Darlingside created its polar opposite with Extralife, the new album exploring what is now and what might be simultaneously in the brave new world.A lot of the album has to do with the present and the future, Mukharji reveals, that future being a completely unknown quantity and the present being a new and bizarre place to be living in. I think were grappling with a number of aspects of reality we had not expected. That reality, surviving a dystopian landscape, constructs the new album, the band killing many of its prior darlings (the name Darlingside being a reference to non-attachment) in the process. Their Birds Say, wide-eyed innocence is now bloodshot for the better. As the title track Extralife informs in four-part harmony, Its over now / The flag is sunk / The world has flattened out, it loosely sets the new albums premise. However, the recording also delivers hope through Beach Boys-inspired vocals that contrast with lyrics such as The fiery flower beds above / Mushroom clouds reset the sky. Eschaton uses a similar formula, this time immersing its Waterworld imagery in fun, fluid synthesizer runs, concluding with the rally, No matter what weve been / We are the upshot now. Its axis-flipped, Escher- mimicking lyrics sketch a variation on the End Times that suggests its actually preventable. Even the Taps-inspired trumpet mourn and harmonica cries of Hold Your Head Up High are held at bay by the uplifting, anthemic chorus chants of the song titles message.As seen throughout the above, Extralife is not shy about employing metaphysics to prove its flexible theses. Perhaps the most blatant example would be in Futures. Despite despondent references to futureforests in the sea, bikini snow, (a historical nickname for nuclear fallout) and even the Thermocene Epoch, were encouraged through time-traveling radio transmissions that Its not ever too late, undeniable when empowered by those powerful four-part harmonies. Even the songs tiny interpolation of The Beatles Ive Just Seen A Face, Falling, yes Imfalling, and she keeps calling me back again, is a reassurance that, yes, as even The Fab Four suggested, we will find our way back. And if doom and gloom isreversible, perhaps whatever darling is emerging on Indian Orchard Road can be killed or contained by the sheer beauty of a Darlingside musical assault.Although Darlingsides signature superpower is considered to be their vocal prowess, it perhaps can overwhelm their presentations subtleties, both live and in the studio. After all, the mind gravitates to that which is charming, and their harmonies could seduce the rings off Saturn. But Extralife is the first Frankensteining as the band puts itby the groups four equal-status members. Each one now equally contributes to something way bigger than his individual part. Equal contributions of vocals, lyrical altruism and wisdom, and effortless musicianship are what empower todays Darlingside and animate Extralifes twelve reality-benders.As evidenced in their new recordings, these young turks jettison preconceived notions and hardwired life lessons with the grace of choirboys. This time around, theres no patience for a lengthy, lighthearted song such as Birds Says Harrison Ford when a cut-to-the-chase commentary on the American dark horse using a short but pathos-rich Rita Hayworth as its vehicle will suffice. Also, instead of relying purely on its very capable, musical fraternity of core members, they even eliminate their Darlingside darlings by expanding its Americana with surprising instrumentation such as the aforementioned trumpet, plus synthesizers, echo- chambered flutes, and more. Of the gifts and weapons left by these honorary Darlingsidians, Mukharji informs, It very much feels like a big, communal family that's growing together. Thats a very exciting thing. And once described as boyishly cryptic, their innocent, poetic lyrics also were felled on the field. On Extralife, lyrics must serve as standalone poetry, cautionary tales, and extended musical backdrops via phonetics with no clear boundaries.So considering all of the above, what exactly is Extralife? The idea of the extra life' in a video game is another chance or another path, and the ability to continue, reveals Paseltiner. We read an article about Mario Brothers and the development of Nintendo in The Economist. With that first track on the album, Auyon had been conducting a lyrics experiment where he was writing from the viewpoint of Mario stuck in a video game. We then ended up taking our songs beyond the confines of that video game experiment, identifying with some of its themes like either feeling stuck in a certain dimension and having a desire to break into the next one or what it means to break beyond the sphere we are stuck inthe present. The album goes through a series of songs that deal with that.As Best Of The Best Of Times posits, I wonder whether our days are unnumbered, if were truly heading towards Game Over. Neither Extralife nor its creators have any solutions. On the other hand, Orion offers some guidance as to preventing the what is now from cementing the what might be explored across this brave new album: The beach is just a line in the sand / The tide is in the palm of your hand / Its looking like the start or the end / Either way ahead is around the bend. Perhaps by moving beyond our preconceptionsgoing Extralifewe can create an amazing future by steering this world towards something incredible. That all makes up the definition of extraordinary.

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