Brooklyn and Cologne-based Tom Krell has been playing lo-fi r&b under the moniker How To Dress Well since 2004. This past winter, his project has blossomed, producing seven e.p.’s in as many months, all available on the blog. Last week marked the release of the band’s latest, can’t see my own face – the eternal love 2.
The five songs pop and fizzle like a damaged speaker, even at low volumes. Ethereal layers amass from piano loops and falsetto harmonies. In the e.p.’s title song, slinky drum loops provide a background for Krell’s delicately delivered vocals. The song’s lyrics fit with the dreamy, surreal music: “with my eyes / with my eyes / I won’t see my own face.” Multi-track vocals lie atop one other, blending beautifully.
Listening through the e.p. gives the sensation of a dream: walking from room to room in some sound-art installation where each world connotes its own logic, all connected by a thin mist. I remember die rosa Wolke, drinking pink champagne in East Berlin. The music’s high ceilings are balanced by the lo-fi recording aesthetic, making an exterior seem tight and manageable. Think Big Spider’s Back meets Maxwell’s Embrya (remember Maxwell?).
A friend of mine said recently that in this age of digital music and recording accessibility, “everyone should be making music.” While I’m too much of a critic to endorse this wholeheartedly, How To Dress Well is one band whose releases always get me excited about the future of music. Recently mentioned in the Village Voice and on Pitchfork’s “Best New Tracks,” they are giving fresh voice to r&b and bedroom recording in general. The band is also featured on Friendship Bracelet’s most recent mixtape. Cop that here.
How to Dress Well, “you won’t need me where I’m going” (can’t see my own face – the eternal love 2e.p.)
Words: Nicholas Wells