- Nathan Yoder
Album Preview - Methods Body - S/T
Methods Body, the Portland-based duo of John Niekrasz and Luke Wyland, release their debut album this Friday through Beacon Sound and New Amsterdam Records. The self-titled work, featuring keys, percussion, and electronics, is incredibly dynamic from start to finish, and serves as a testament to creative collaboration in its purest form.
Methods Body, in a way, has been percolating for years. John and Luke have improvised together in various contexts since 2007, and their respective groups (Why I Must Be Careful and AU) often cross-pollinated ideas. John left Portland for a spell, but returned in 2016 so that he and Luke could collaborate more closely. Dedicating time and energy to rehearsing as well as growing their already strong emotional bond, the duo worked together five days a week, for the better part of three years. Methods Body is a result of this intimate musical relationship.
When asked how they compliment each other, John and Luke concede that they "share a particular high-frequency energy, but navigate it very differently." John is continually blown away by Luke's synesthetic mental mapping of new compositions, as well as his emotional authenticity when playing live. Luke's wild tuning systems and sampling experimentation keeps John on his toes as well. And Luke appreciates John's rigor and commitment to practice, which challenges and motivates, as well as John's ability to pull from a massive catalogue of melodies and rhythms. Luke explains that John also possesses this punk-ish tendency to push against existing structures, which breaks the group out of long-integrated habits.
The album itself is divided into two distinct suites (Quiet on side A and Claimed Events on side B), and each was written and recorded through separate processes. The band retreated to starkly different landscapes to inspire each suite (an "epic" old-growth forest and the Mojave Desert), and feel that those two environments definitely influenced each composition. Regarding the contrasting musical processes, John and Luke write:
"...for the Quiet Suite, John recorded all of the beats and then we brought it back to Luke’s home studio and started to blossom out the different themes and melodies. In contrast, for the Claimed Events suite Luke captured and sampled our live improvisations and refracted them out by manipulating them in real time. Responding to our own skewed loops generates some novel zones. Then we compiled these improvisations and sculpted them into mysterious compositions."
The sounds and style found on Methods Body are absolutely unique, and difficult to articulate through writing. The music feels wild and boundless. It feels improvisational and experimental. It feels cerebral, yet at its core, deeply groovy and danceable. When concerts begin again (Methods Body had to cancel/postpone a few) they will be a must-see act, as their music will surely exude incredible energy when performed live. Masters of their crafts, John and Luke will without a doubt get a crowd moving.
The music is not all groove, however. The immensely talented Holland Andrews makes an appearance during Claimed Events Pt. 2 - Overheard to chant an ominous call to action from a story written by John about resistance to future fascism in the wake of the 2016 election. So there are absolutely somber moments found on the album. To repeat a descriptor, Methods Body is incredibly dynamic, as compositions move through a range of emotions and energies. Give the entire album a listen this Friday when it comes out, and experience it for yourself. It is quite a striking debut from a pair of talented artists, collaborating as one.