Mixing Memory with Desire

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This San Francisco group, based around a core duo of multi-instrumentalists Leslie Satterfield and Rick Maymi (Satterfield handles all vocals), makes a quietly impressive debut turn with Mixing Memory With Desire. A brief eight-song release that just misses being half-an-hour long, Mixing Memory could easily go on for longer, it's that enjoyable. Satterfield's singing, reminiscent of Mo Tucker's brief but memorable turn on the Velvet Underground's "Afterhours" or Allison Statton's work in the Young Marble Giants, has just enough of a rough edge in the sweetness, a certain quiet desperation. Her lyrical questions on "Scarlet Lover," pointed but delivered in the calmest of fashions, gives a sense of the steel hidden in her words. It matches well with the unsettling, melancholy elements in many of the songs, often suggesting an aura of keeping a smile on the face of darker waters. The way the title track switches between twinkly keyboard swirls and calm guitar parts and more doom-shrouded, bass-heavy interludes is one indication, as is "Hymn," acoustic guitar and vocals interspersed with darker synth moans and heavy echo. Given that Maymi and Satterfield play pretty much the same instruments (though she handles keyboards while he does drums), the two blend together very well. While Maymi's work on traps holds its own with the likes of, say, Codeine or a very deliberate Mogwai, it's not the key focus of the music (and arguably sometimes overpowers it, though doubtless that's not the intent). Karmus Hawkins adds violin here and there throughout the album, perhaps most effectively on "No Shame," haunting swirls and melodies set into the mix in opposition to the upfront bassline.