New Brunswick’s Pallmer magnetize with Quiet Clapping EP

New Brunswick’s Pallmer magnetize with Quiet Clapping EP
RIYL: Owen Pallett, Sharon Van Etten, Phillip Glass“We wanted the recording to embody the intimacy of the songs; to be able to push and pull, and to break away from having to fit into the confines of a click,” said Pallmer’s Emily Kennedy (she/her).

Just before the great pause, Pallmer hunkered down to record a new collection of songs at interAction, an old church-converted-to-arts-centre in Saint John, NB. Working with Corey Bonnevie (Monopolized Records), they recorded five songs in a large dance studio in the back of the building, taking advantage of its natural resonance, and embracing the occasional noises from old water heating.

“Who can say a place is empty / When they’ve never been at all,” Kennedy sings on the EP’s title track, her voice burrowing into affecting layers of plucking and bowing. “A memory can fill a room.”

“I find a lot of New Brunswickers have a grass-is-greener outlook on their home province,” she said. “I know I did. I left for a large chunk of my 20s, and every once in a while, that feeling returns – the feeling that elsewhere will be better, that living in a larger city is the only way to ‘make it’ – whatever that means. I wrote the lyrics to ‘Quiet Clapping’ after realizing one night that this grass-is-greener fantasy was stopping me from appreciating what was right in front of me.”

Kennedy (cello, vocals) and Kleyn (viola) had performed with each other in classical ensembles for several years before delving into their own writing, using loop pedals and effects to expand the possibilities of their wooden instruments. On “Fences,” they experiment with drones and variating patterns, a la Philip Glass or Steve Reich.

“Corey generated the drone at the opening of the song by looping some demo vocals, and recording the looped drone through the room at interAction, so that the reverb fit with the rest of the recordings,” Kennedy said. “The tune starts off with a viola loop, but gradually builds to a dense climax near the end, where we break down a revolving pattern into smaller and smaller chunks. The viola part in the last instrumental section is inspired by the 8th movement of Philip Glass’s ‘In the Summer House.’”

With the moving Quiet Clapping closer “Bricks,” Pallmer return to their roots, embracing minimalism for sake of clarity.

“It’s one of the most intimate songs I’ve written,” said Kennedy. “Although the majority of my writing is very personal, I have a tendency to try to hide behind vagueness and metaphor. Acknowledging this, I wanted to challenge myself – to be open, and to step back from layers of looped strings to something more bareboned and honest. It’s a short tune – only seven lines – but each one holds a lot of meaning for me.”

“Bricks” Video – Sarah Kierstead
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Embracing the grey area between classical composition and songwriting, Pallmer is a string duo born from late evening improv sessions during a particularly snowy winter in Fredericton, NB.  Taking their name from the street they live on (adding an extra “L” to their name for added confusion), Pallmer’s sound is a unique mix of folk-like vocal melodies, indie-classical intricacies, ethereal minimalism, and brief moments of expansive improvisation.

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