Posts Tagged ‘The Helio Sequence’

 

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The Helio Sequence is an American Indie Rock duo formed in Beaverton, OR in 1996. The band is composed of Brandon Summers (Vocals/Guitar) and Benjamin Weikel (Drums/Keyboards). Those who have been to a Helio Sequence show know what to expect: a sonic wall of electric guitar and synth, bombastic sub bass, and drum kit acrobatics accompanied by Benjamin’s many expressive faces.
But for one special night on March 31st, 2015 we rewrote the script. At a sold out show at Seattle’s beautiful Triple Door, we played a fully acoustic set.

The origins of our acoustic show lay in necessity. In spring of 2014, we were all set to play a benefit for our friends at the Children’s Book Bank at the Old Church in our hometown of Portland. Just a few days before the show, we got an understandably concerned call from the venue letting us know that the high decibel levels of a typical Helio show would quite probably cause structural damage to the fragile building. At first we thought we would just turn down for the event, but soon realized that we’d have to do something much more drastic. So, in a hectic couple of days of rehearsal, we put together our first-ever acoustic set. The show was a success and most importantly we didn’t knock down the Old Church!

In making the acoustic set we learned a new way of looking at our songs. We used different keys, new chord voicings, alternate tunings and a wide range of percussion. Songs that we had known and played for years took on a new life and we were excited about the prospect of sharing them with more people. In early 2015, when we finished up recording our new album, we jumped on the opportunity to put together a special acoustic eve at The Triple Door.

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The night was even more magical than we could have imagined. We were both pretty nervous before the show, as it was such new territory to play without the high volume and layers of synths that we’re used to. And we had never performed to a seated, dining audience before. (Listen closely and you’ll hear the gentle clanking of silverware on people’s plates during dinner service!) But everybody was so overwhelmingly supportive and enthusiastic that our apprehension soon melted away. The evening flowed with a wonderful, natural energy. For part of the show, we were joined by phenomenal cellist Samantha Kushnick, marking the unique occasion of Helio Sequence as a trio. And as the show went on, it was a joy to hear people singing along, clapping, and laughing.

We’re so glad we caught the show “on tape” and can now share “The Helio Sequence Acoustic Live at The Triple Door” with everyone. That night served as an uplifting reminder that there’s as much power in the quieter moments as a full bore rock show. And it was confirmation that at root, a song is a form of intimacy and music is the power of a shared experience.

Released June 5th, 2020

Cello on “Hall of Mirrors”, “Battle Lines”, “Broken Afternoon”, and “Hallelujah” by Samantha Kushnick

On October 12th, 2018, Sub Pop will reissue The Helio Sequence’s landmark album Keep Your Eyes Aheadfor its 10th anniversary as a deluxe edition.The newly remastered set will be available on CD/2xLP/DL and includes the original 10-song effort along with a second album of demos, alternate versions, and outtakes from the same era. Keep Your Eyes Ahead: Deluxe Edition was mastered by The Helio Sequence at Helio Sound studio in their hometown of Portland, Oregon.

Deluxe Edition of Keep Your Eyes Ahead (Release date: October 12, 2018)

Upon its release in 2008, the record was warmly received from critics and fans alike. It was named one of the “Top 25 Albums of 2008,” ,Keep Your Eyes Aheadis a shining example of how to go retro while still moving forward.” Washington Post offered this, “Trading its former album’s dense keyboard compositions for a more expansive and organic sound, Keep Your Eyes Aheadis the work of a band commanding its audience’s attention. Stand out tracks like “Hallelujah” and “Can’t Say No” show the band flexing its melodic muscles, branching out into grandiose guitar rock territory without sacrificing the nuance and keyboard flourishes of its early work.”

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When June arrived, the Helio Sequence gathered their 26 finished songs and sent them to 31 friends, fans and family members. They asked each person to rank their 10 favorite tracks. By summer’s end, they had arrived at the brisk 10 tracks that shape the breathless and magnetic The Helio Sequence—a record so named because it’s a kind of clean restart for the longtime pair, a revamp of their process and a revitalization of their results.

The Helio Sequence is a renewed push forward for the band: From the cool wallop of “Deuces,” where guitars snarl and harmonies soar, to the stuttering anxiety of “Upward Mobility”, where pianos pound and drums race, this collection depends upon an effortless kinetic energy. Lyrically, “Stoic Resemblance” is a study of existential anxiety, but musically, it’s a beguiling burst of pop, Summers’ vocals rising over and sliding off of Weikel’s big, irrepressible beat. The bittersweet “Leave or Be Yours” evokes the easy twinkle of romance and the smoldering sadness of losing it. Crisscrossing vocals and cross-talking guitars and drums map a broad swirl of emotions.

With its easy acoustic jangle, “Inconsequential Ties” might be one of the most surprising, light moments within the bombastic Helio Sequence catalog. But considered within the band’s history, it points to the pop that’s bound Summers and Weikel for so long. Indeed, there’s a delightful candor to The Helio Sequence, an openness that is a rare and special feat for a band about to enter its third decade.

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Portland indie popsters The Helio Sequence followed their late 2000s fave Keep Your Eyes Ahead with 2012’s Negotiations, a fine album but one that mostly picked up where its predecessor picked up. Now they’ve got a self-titled LP coming May 18th via Sub Pop Records, and if first single “Stoic Resemblance” is any indication, they’re changing it up this time. The band’s signature hooks are still intact, but the song brings in head-nodding rhythms and an air of psychedelia not found on their previous releases. The new album also comes with Sunrise Demos, a collection of demos from the new album’s sessions, and you can hear “The Witness” from that above.

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The self-titled sixth album by The Helio Sequence began within the Portland, Oregon music scene .In a sense, The Helio Sequence had spent their whole career preparing for this record. They’d sunk entire recording advances into studio purchases, collaborating with local engineers to build custom gear and a space where they could blend high fidelity with kaleidoscopic sound. In 2013, the pair took on their first full-scale production project, the Brazilian rock band Quarto Negro, after the group inquired about their space and availability through Facebook. As producers, they’d remixed Shabazz Palaces, picked up mixing sessions with Portland acts and earned representation from Global Positioning Services. Summers and Weikel discovered just how adaptable and powerful their studio could be.

They began arriving each morning in their Portland space—housed in the cafeteria and break room of an old warehouse— with the mission of making as much music as possible in one month. They began exploring and capturing, recording guitar riffs and keyboard loops, drum patterns and bass lines. One piece documented, they quickly advanced to the next idea. Summers and Weikel didn’t discuss what they were making or the reference points that informed it, though such discussions had once been central to The Helio Sequence’s more self-conscious process. They just played. Created. In time, they returned to each fragment, broadcasting it over the studio PA, jamming and recording the results. Mistakes didn’t matter, and second chances didn’t exist. After two weeks, Summers and Weikel began cutting those loose takes into rough shapes, steadily building songs from their cavalier sketches.

When June arrived, the duo gathered their 26 finished songs and sent them to 31 friends, fans and family members. They asked each person to rank their 10 favorite tracks. By summer’s end, they had arrived at the brisk 10 tracks that shape the breathless and magnetic The Helio Sequence—a record so named because it’s a kind of clean restart for the longtime pair, a revamp of their process and a revitalization of their results.