School of Night – School of Night (EP) (Transgressive Records)
The 5-song self-titled EP was written, recorded and produced between 2011-2012 mostly during Cicci’s brief breaks from recording and touring with The Antlers. “I would go to my studio, play synths in the dark, collect sounds that I love and try to build little worlds I could just dissolve into and explore”. And that’s exactly what School of Night does.
As one might expect, as the keyboardist for The Antlers, School of Night is a synth-driven record. Due largely to its atmosphere and slow pacing, the EP has a somewhat of a laid back vibe and is definitely one for the headphones.
The EP’s melodic lead single and opening track “Lying” is a dreamy, slow pace number layered with synths that range from Kraftwerk style arpeggios to warm, rich pads in addition to blips and quirks. There’s also more than a hint of psychedelia woven into the track. An usual but intriguing introduction.
Though the words are hard to decipher, Darby Cicci’s voice acts as an instrument floating in and out and providing the song with melody. Cicci’s reverb soaked vocals are at once understated but melodic while sharing some tonal qualities to The Antlers’ vocalist Peter Silberman but overall smoother and breathier.
The chill-out sounds of the 7-minute “Doktor” continues with a similar mood and pace as the opening track but also exhibits some jazz-y textures.
The EP’s highlight is the fragile “Fire Escape”, which is a gorgeous and heartfelt number characterized by its sparse soundscape of echoed vocals, horns, and deep sub bass. As the song develops as does the synth parts.
Melding the two worlds is the excellent piano-led “Play Dead” which combines the spacey psychedelic sounds and vintage synth arpeggios of the opening track with the horns and jazz-y qualities of “Doktor”. The chords and their progression emit a theatrical sinister vibe that wouldn’t be out of place in a Tim Burton film.
Falling just shy of 7 and half minutes is the EP’s final track “Vacuum” which, although is the least memorable and remarkable of the five tracks, succeeds in creating a meditative and psychedelic atmosphere. The song’s final 90 seconds where Darby Cicci’s lets rip with his vocals are its most impressive.
An enjoyable debut and a quirky, unique introduction into the world of Darby Cicci, the self-titled EP from School of Night is released 14 October, 2013 on Transgressive Records.
Listen to “Lying” below: