Get ready for Erik Hall, a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who blends distant sounds under the name In Tall Buildings, to bring his innovative music on April 5th to The Blind Pig. “Curtain,” the lead single off his new album, Akinetic, features a Moog synthesizer arpeggiation that locks in with a finger-picked pattern on acoustic guitar. It’s a compelling mix of tones, and a good bellwether for what follows. Throughout the album, synthetic and organic instrumentation interweave beneath Hall’s silky soft vocals, somewhat in the fashion of indie-rock band The Postal Service.
“I love mixing worlds and combining disparate elements because of the complexity of what you end up with,” he says. “Sonically, it’s very rich. There’s a lot of depth when you have some element that’s completely synthetic — really heavily manipulated — and it’s juxtaposed right alongside a totally natural-sounding instrument. That excites me as a listener.”
Inspired by Radiohead
Hall’s guiding light, in that regard, is Radiohead’s more experimental moments. “To me, they’re one of the greatest bands ever,” he says. “They continue to put out completely top-caliber art. They’re compelling as they’ve ever been, and they do that really well.”
Hall has always taken a multifaceted approach to music: He studied classical piano during childhood and played percussion for the Chicago Youth Symphony in high school (and guitar in a rock band on the side). In 2003, he co-founded experimental jazz fusion group Nomo, which went from gigging in basements around Ann Arbor to touring the world and released its sixth and most recent album in 2009.
These days, Hall earns a living through his various musical projects. In Tall Buildings is his primary outlet as a songwriter, but he also actively tours as a supporting member of the genre-bending rock band Wild Belle – which includes members of Nomo – and dabbles in film-scoring, audio restoration and recording other bands on the side.
First album produced by someone else
Akinetic, the third In Tall Buildings’ record and follow-up to 2015’s Driver, was recorded over a two-year period with Chicago-based producer and engineer Brian Deck, whose previous work includes albums by Califone, Counting Crows and Iron and Wine.
“I had never seriously considered working with a producer on an In Tall Buildings album, but here he was asking if I wanted to,” Hall says. “I decided it would be a great to have input and direction from another creative mind that I really respect.”
During sessions in Hall’s home studio in Chicago, Deck focused mostly on the album’s densely layered instrumentation. He didn’t influence the album’s lyrical direction, which gravitated toward themes of connectivity and communication – or the lack thereof.
“There are a lot of barriers to communication these days,” Hall explains. “I’m more and more disheartened by the general level of awareness I see in people and in our culture. I think we’re in a new age of distraction, and when you’re distracted, you’re easily swayed. This album has a little bit of a darker outlook, admittedly.”
$8, 8pm, Thursday, April 5
208 S. First St., Ann Arbor
734-996-8555 | blindpigmusic.com