Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Pitstop: Boon

photo by Ben Nigh
My introduction to former Brooklyn based quartet Boon is one of those all-too-common instances for me of encountering a band several times before finally getting around to checking out their work. Originally slated for both our bands to play together, I had to leave before their set and thus missed Boon in their more common four-piece iteration. When I did actually manage to catch them a month later, it was an ambient set consisting exclusively of singer/songwriter Brendan Principato on synths. And through questioning a fellow showgoer far more familiar with them than I was informed that this particular set wasn't all that indicative of their recorded output. It wasn't until my band was slated to play with them again that I actually sat down to listen to them and even then it was solely their most recent release "Watermelon"/"Two of Cups". Though there were more than a few opportunities to acquaint myself with the band, the fact that I hadn't familiarized myself with their output essentially made for the most pleasant of surprises. Since the last time I had seen Principato, he and fellow bandmate Drew Sher moved to Philly and retooled the ambient folk project into a more organic twosome. Intricate interwoven guitar melodies met Principato's absolutely head-turning vocals and were pillowed by Sher's complementary harmonies.

While much of their set both that night and the following week consisted of newer tracks Principato and Sher had written after the release of their debut full length they released just this past Summer, being blown away by their set the first night inspired me to more actively consume the band and give There's No Saving This House the first of many spins as well as ensure that I was at their next planned show. Though Boon has effectively halved their lineup, there is no shortage of sound from Principato and Sher who, repurposing old tunes alongside new ones, have managed to minimize the amount of gear and hands necessary to create an incredibly lush textural masterpieces through just the use of reverb, delay, two guitars, and their own voices. Considering the duo's efforts to minimalize, I was struck by their ability to take an incredibly intricate song like album standout "Ruby Current" and really allow it to soar. Eight minutes in length on the record, it's a song that finds Boon giving in to their most jam band of impulses without that actually being a bad thing. "Ruby Current" begins at a stage whisper, a wash of threaded guitars forming as significant a part of the song's aural tapestry as climactic cymbal crashes and Principato's unrestrained melodic howls.

Boon's new setup isn't an entirely new formula. Two guitars, voice, minimal effects: it's been a standard combination practically since the invention of the guitar and surefire staple of the folk genre but it's also a testament to the power of effective songwriting and inventive performance that such a simple tweak has resulted in an absolutely enchanting entry into the genre. Boon's former brand of drone-friendly experimental folk pop was something the band could've effortless explored further and maybe they will continue to do so in the future but the "less is more" style that the duo have adopted as a necessity finds middle ground between standard acoustic focused folk and its more experimental permutation is also worth exploring. Whatever route the duo embark on in their future endeavors, it's sure to be anchored by Principato's emotionally effective vocals and the duo's embrace of stranger sounds and that's something to be excited about.

Boon's debut full length There Is No Saving This House is out now.

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