The pop wilderness of Beat Connection

Garden variety
By REYAN ALI  |  July 6, 2012

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SPACE EVADERS Beat Connection's The Palace Garden is an exquisite synth-pop trip, rich with twinkling wind chimes, R2-D2-on-the-dance-floor chirps, and a glistening Arctic fantasia.

Jordan Koplowitz's life — I'm disappointed to discover — was not forever changed by a momentous round of beer pong. A much-circulated press release for Beat Connection, the electronic project Koplowitz created with Reed Juenger, notes that the duo's "fate was sealed one night not long after they met, over a game of beer pong that turned into a discussion of mutual musical appreciation." Although the pair's friendship did spark at University of Washington in 2008, it wasn't a byproduct of red Solo cups and filthy shots of Natty Light. "Basically, we met the very first day we were at college. That night, we probably ended up playing beer pong because it was college and that's what college kids do," Koplowitz says, speaking via phone while the Seattle band is on tour. But the real reason they bonded was because of a digital arts and experimental media class where they found that they liked to make music together.

More specifically, Koplowitz and Juenger enjoyed making pop music, which was galaxies removed from their classroom's avant-garde sounds. After teaming up as DJs specializing in French house, they started creating music during sophomore year, first using GarageBand as their lone tool. At some point, Koplowitz submitted the Beat Connection song "Same Damn Time" to a blogger without informing Juenger. Said blogger was so smitten with the track that it motivated Koplowitz to take making music more seriously, which eventually led to the band releasing the EP Surf Noir in 2011. He describes Surf Noir as "segmented" because its tracks overall maintained limited cohesion with one another — a contrast to the narrative aspect of The Palace Garden (Moshi Moshi/Tender Age), the now-four-piece band's freshly released full-length.

"We talk about being somewhere totally different from where you are," says Koplowitz. "The Palace Garden is this magical place that you've never been before, and you meet a girl." The character of "you" likes this girl until you begin asking yourself too many questions, suggesting you shouldn't be with her, even though you probably love her. Halfway through Palace, you realize that all these worries are just in your head and go back to enjoying yourself. Koplowitz adds that its inspiration came from analyzing why a good feeling fades so often: "Is it because of the girl, or because of yourself or the place you're at? Is it boredom? It's an eternal conflict that we realize we all have had at some point."

Palace — recorded, produced, and mixed entirely by the band — spends most of its time as an exquisite synth-pop trip, rich with twinkling wind chimes ("En Route"), nifty R2-D2-on-the-dance-floor chirps ("Other Side of the Sky"), and a glistening Arctic fantasia ("Foreign Embassy"), complete with its tropical counterpart ("Further Out").

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