Sasquatch Artist Of The Week: Purity Ring

Eight weeks ago, the Sasquatch Music Festival lineup was released to much fanfare. Like all festivals, some hated the lineup while others loved it. For the more levelheaded, it appears to be a very balanced lineup with a deep undercard. From here on out we will be underscoring the lesser-known Sasquatch artists by highlighting a different artist each week. Beyond delving into each artist’s bio, sound, etc., we will attempt to give some insight into what will make their performance at Sasquatch so amazing.

Purity Ring is Megan James and Corey Roddick, two twenty-somethings who have been dabbling in a variety of genres since their early teens. Roddick was previously a member of the experimental electro-pop group Gobble Gobble, and James has been trained as a pianist since age sixteen. Not much is known about the duo, but they make music that is unlike most of the material floating around the Internet these days. Though their repertoire is relatively slim, having only released three songs over their year-plus-long existence, their work is complex, intricate, and clearly effort-driven. In an interview with Pitchfork last summer, when asked to explain the group’s few-and-far-between track releases, Roddick explained:

“When you are releasing a constant stream of music, it can cheapen the work– we want each song to linger with people. We also spend an incredibly long time on a track. I have tons of files on my laptop that aren’t finished; sometimes I’ll start something and come back to it later.”

Their style is incredibly unique, and includes rhythmic tributes to Roddick’s love for Southern hip-hop, backed by both purely electronic instrumental elements and fantastic lyrical imagery in the muted, mixed-in female vocals. The lyrics are presented in an almost childlike vocal tone, evoking a sense of discovery and exploration within the hazy verses.

Purity Ring’s releases began with their single “Ungirthed,” back in January of 2011. The track is sticky and many-layered, doused in a brassy bassline and adorned with bits of chime-like treble, all neatly wrapped around Megan James’ sweetly electronic vocals.

Their next track, “Lofticries,” was the b-side on their Ungirthed 7″. “Lofticries” is a work of slow-paced, catchy genius, carried through by a simple drum track and heavy shades of deep, warped synth and almost-vocal melody. This one will get stuck in your head. The lyrics seem as though they describe a dream sequence:

“You must be hovering over yourself
watching us trip on each other’s sides
Dear brother, collect all the liquids off of the floor
Use your oily fingers
Make a paste, let it form

Let it seep through your sockets and earholes
into your precious, fractured skull
Let it seep, let it keep you from us
Patiently heal you, patiently unreel you.”

Purity Ring’s third release came out in August of 2011, and appears on a split 7″ with Canadian art-rock outfit Braids. Fans of AraabMusik and Clams Casino will enjoy the instrumental hip-hop feel of this one, but the chopped-up vocal track gives this a sound all its own.

Somehow both calm and insanely energetic at the same time, Purity Ring’s music is so complex it takes several listens before you feel you’ve heard all the layers in any one track. But the ear-pleasing intricacy of the group’s production style will make you want to listen over and over again. Their Sasquatch performance will take place in the Banana Shack, and will undoubtedly include lots of eardrum-pounding bass and dance-provoking synth and rhythm. Presumably, their set will include more material than the three songs we have heard from them thus far, so you won’t want to miss the chance to hear more from the talent within this group.

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