Toronto-based electronic producer and multi-instrumentalist Brad Weber is most likely known to most readers for his ongoing role in Caribou’s live band lineup, but his 2013 self-titled debut album as Pick A Piper saw him diverging away slightly, taking influence from dreamy shoegaze and synth-pop as much as it did contemporary club music. Four years on, this follow-up ‘Distance’ sees Weber getting even more lush and layered with his production, its ten tracks smoothly balancing elements of gauzy dream-pop and chillwave with dancefloor friendly polyrhythmic backings, though there are definite traces of the dark, melancholic undercurrents that have characterised more recent Caribou releases such as ‘Our Love.’
‘Further And Further’ offers up a collaboration with J-pop producer LLLL that sees singer Makota’s sugar-sweet breathy vocals drifting against a chilly backdrop of wafting synths as house-centred kickdrums inject a sense of midtempo propulsion against clattering percussive tones. If the aforementioned track calls to mind associations with the likes of Washed Out’s soft-focus chillwave explorations, ‘Flood Of My Eyes’ kicks the pace up a few notches, sending hypnotic chiming tones floating against rattling broken-house rhythms and dark analogue bass tones, Makota’s soul-tinged vocals getting cut-up and reassembled as the entire track descends into a moody breakdown section filled with eerie delayed-out shakers and handclaps, its dense layering of rolling polyrhythms particularly giving away the Caribou link.
‘Nikko’ meanwhile offers up what’s easily one of the most gleamingly optimistic moment here, as spiraling synth arpeggios build into a dense rippling web against shuffling snares and wandering analogue bass tones, the background synth drones building into a majestic wall of sound against clicking woodblock percussion. Elsewhere, ‘January Feels Lost’ sees the hypnotically chiming percussion loops shifting back to the foreground as a melancholic muted trumpet solos against gauzy layers of electronic treatment and slowly phased synth trails, the sense of underlying weariness undercutting the rattling momentum. All up, ‘Distance’ represents a memorable progression in sound for Pick A Piper.