Portland, OR is home to a lot of fucking bands. Dark Numbers is a relatively recent addition to Stumptown’s roster of musical exports, but the list of priors the quartet has spent time in comprises a good number of almost every band that has ever existed in the city. Ok, maybe not every band, but a good-sized chunk of ‘em, including Humours, Cliterati, Hot Victory, Poison Idea, Stöller, Lord Dying, Prize Hog, Sioux, IX, Vueltas and probably more I’m missing.
Coming together in 2016 at a house shared by drummer Ben Stoller and baritone guitarist Dan O’Hara, the duo consigned themselves to writing long and ponderous compositions that were reigned in and sculpted by the addition of bassist Kirk Evans and vocalist/synth player Natalie Lucio’s soaring soulful vocals. The result is an unnervingly sweet, melodically powerful and progressive take on sludge that incorporates touches of gospel, slow core, ‘70s and ‘80s pop and new wave and whatever Anneke van Giersbergen’s has been doing the past 20-some-odd years.
“All of us come from very disparate places and try to create music somewhere in between all that,” says O’Hara about the band’s inspiration and direction. “It’s not always easy to accomplish, but we try to keep melody as a focal point no matter how intense or saturated the sound can get. We love harmony and complexity, but try to steer away from overly math-y head trips. Dark Numbers is about the fragile nature of balance between opposing factors.”
May 24th will see the release of If It Was It Would Be So, the band’s debut via Nadine Records and today we present a track entitled “Shallows” for you to wrap your ears around.
Here’s what Natalie Lucio had to say on the topic of what “Shallows” is about:
“The short answer is that I wrote the lyrics about my turbulent relationship with our guitar player. A lot of the lyrical content for this album was culled from our on-again/off-again affairs. The challenge was maintaining a professional relationship, as far as the band was concerned. Generally though, “Shallows” is about seeing potential in something and that initial desire to force something you want to happen. Then, after much struggle, exhaustion sets in and you finally decide that if it was meant to be, it would happen naturally. Basically, it’s about trying to let go of results.
Here’s the song in question:
Here’s what Dan O’Hara had to say on the topic of recording their debut LP:
“We wrote three of the songs from this record over the course of a year as a three piece. They had a lot more parts and ran a lot shorter length. In an effort to make things less heady and spastic, we recruited Natalie and started spacing stuff. Some of the arrangements were barely rehearsed, if at all, and then run at the studio a few times until we got a take we liked. I quit my job and basically tweaked and added layers of synths and guitars as my daily routine for a little over a month then packed it all up and sent back to our engineer, Fester, who makes magickal things happen in his mysterious Hypercube. “The Mariner” and a few of the interlude bits were done at my home studio to flesh out songs. We didn’t intend for this to be a full length at first, but the quality that Fester captured at Caravan Studio (now closed) and the other bits I did at home just made it feel more complete.”
People of Portland (and within reasonable driving distance), Dark Numbers will celebrate the album with a release show on May 24th at Tonic Lounge.
For more info:
Nadine Records website: https://nadinerecords.com