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Preview: Sylvan Esso 

Noah Bonaparte Pais previews the band coming to Gasa Gasa Aug. 16

Sylvan Esso's self-titled debut (Partisan) starts with one of the most paralyzing album openers of the year. As introductions go, "Hey Mami" is a stunner: A soft wash of cars pan the channels, a cascading female chirp-chant slots in the middle — and then there's another, laid on top in wind chime harmony, and another, coming in for support underneath. It sounds like birds parroting a catcall, and it's pinned now by a slow clap that happens exactly once per measure, on the third count; by the third measure, you can sense the arms gearing up in motion, feel the hands about to hit. The voices all belong to Amelia Meath, who, with her throwback folk band Mountain Man, made chillingly accurate female harmonizing a specific forte. Her self-created rhythm on "Hey Mami" is not unlike those built by Tune-Yards, with whom she visited Republic in May. But whereas Merrill Garbus has ethnomusicological impulses woven into her DNA, Meath is a tourist, albeit a talented one. From the vocal tangle emerges a kittenish R&B lead, yet it's another minute before Sylvan Esso's trick is revealed — the second verse drops a deep dubstep woof, and with it the realization that this is a dance record. Producer Nick Sanborn (Megafaun) does some nifty things with Meath's impeccable voice, arming it with rubber-tipped Gatling-gun synth bullets on "Dreamy Bruises" and cutting it into sonar pings on the fetching "Could I Be." The pair's first (and second-best) collaboration, the penultimate, pulse-quickening "Play It Right," started life as a Mountain Man song that Sanborn retooled. It's the rare remix that can also be considered a premix. Akron/Family's Dana Buoy opens. Tickets $10. — Noah Bonaparte Pais


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