Lia Ices latest release Grown Unknown is as much an ode to space as it is to sonic texture.
It is a bold technique and one that could easily leave the listener bored and wandering if attempted incorrectly. Fortunately for all, the album is far from boring. If anything, the space employed on the album gives you the room to appreciate the notes being played and ponder the path upon which you are being taken.
Concerned with how this would translate into a live setting I was relieved to hear Ices using backing tracks to fill in some of the vocal arrangements when they played at the Great American Music Hall. It was incredible to hear Ices’ voice floating around a space like that, and when the tracks kicked in and some of those harmonies came together it was truly a turkey flesh sort of scenario.
Apparently San Francisco was the first night of their month long tour that will eventually take them back to Brooklyn by way of the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, and they did seem a little hesitant.
All dressed in matching blue coveralls and all looking similarly dazed between songs it seemed like maybe thy hadn’t gotten their stage legs yet. But as soon as the music kicked in they all locked onto each note and efficiently moved through each piece effortlessly.
“Love Is Won” and “Daphne” were the stand out moments where a driven confidence seemed to overtake both the band and the crowd as a whole and all felt necessary, each note essential and pure. Ices is touring with labelmates The Cave Singers who paired well with Ices’ stripped-down style, taking it a step further and performing a number of songs backed by drums and guitar only. Overall the show was unpresumptuous and straightforward, both Ices and The Cave Singers are taking definitive steps away from over-production and sound saturation and are dwelling within the honesty of simplicity.
This is no easy task in light of the fact that simplicity leaves more room for glaring errors and lost attention span, but both bands pulled it off with ease.