California slips its way into the space between your ears and the gap in your chest in a disconcerting way - before you know it, you’re following it down dusty alleys and through abandoned parks, unsure quite what’s in store or how you got there. The new song from Drinker is deceptive, slowly lulling you in, drawing you nearer without you ever noticing, hand clasped around your neck, pulling you in close enough to feel it’s breath.
Drinker started life in NY as a vehicle for duo Aaron Mendelsohn and Ariel Loh. The pair shared a love of Fever Ray, Bon Iver and James Blake, but to me this sounds more like (Norwegian musician) Magnet fronting Beach House. Following Mendelsohn’s move to LA, the duo started collaborating remotely. The resulting album, appropriately named Fragments, will be released this spring through B3SCI Records.
Creeping in with a gentle guitar melody and hushed vocal harmonies, it isn’t until the chorus fell into my lap that I realised I was a little bit in love with this one. That opening verse, slightly uncertain and cautious, giving way to that beautiful male-female duet and a gentle beat and bass melody. Mendelsohn’s vocals pick there way amongst the instruments like a child gingerly clambering across rock pools - both excited and a little scared by what they might find beneath the surface.
California was written following Mendelsohn’s move to LA, a depiction of his experience of leaving somewhere he knew in exchange for something he likens “to a mirage, in California”. Describing his experience, the artist says:
“The California dream, which I think is a certain specific version of the American Dream based in entertainment...was all around me. The way the people try to climb the ladder, with no shame in their methods, made me wonder if I could keep climbing in my tactful way... Over time I have come to embrace the culture of LA that embraces the chase and the display of the hustle, but I wrote this in the early days when what was supposed to be a dream was seeming all too real.”
There is a haunting, organic feeling here - chillwave played on real instruments - and the result is a little bit staggering.