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Review: The Dwellers, 'Less Is More'

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Dwellers, 'Less Is More' on cassette release - SUBMITTED PHOTO
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  • Dwellers, 'Less Is More' on cassette release

The music of The Dwellers is an enigmatic gale with the power to mesmerize, beguile or frustrate from one moment to the next. On Less Is More, the wildly prolific outfit's newest release, the contradictory manners in which the lo-fi bedroom ambience affects the listener consistently feels intentional, but the desired ends tend to be obscured, like searching for a true reflection in stained glass.

Dwellers channel a minimalist atmosphere befitting of the collection's title, and the "more" in question rings rather abstractly. Humming synths, skipping samples, distortion and a mix of subtle beats and dizzying rhythms construct the dense air and intermittently open into charming moments of light (see: "Words of the Earth" for the full spectrum at work over the span of 5:44). Vocals are sung in hypnotic monotone, stretched and layered in consciously imperfect harmony to place the burden on the listener to decipher the themes at the eerily beating heart of songs like the Grizzly Bear-like "Never Leave Me," the Brian Wilson bedroom-electronic vibe of "Silent Snow." The dazzling blips and soul of "Circle City," wouldn't have been out of place on Thom Yorke's The Eraser or alongside his work with Atoms for Peace.

The Dwellers are a band who cite artists as wide-ranging and notable as Dan Bejar (Destroyer), Frank Zappa, Daniel Rossen (Grizzly Bear), and Sun Ra as influences, and the eclectic verve shows on Less Is More. It's undeniable headphone music: home-recorded experimental pop that delves into psych-leaning eccentricities while keeping a human heart pumping beneath all the kaleidoscopic patches sewn together with unruly care. Less Is More is an oft-lovely, complex journey of fractured ideas that plays out with an erratic temperament of earned warmth and calculated chilliness befitting of this harsh Hoosier winter with spring on the horizon.

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