Seer Group players share more than music

Organ beats
By MICHAEL MAROTTA  |  May 29, 2012

SOCIAL NETWORK Seer Group's Jason Rozen enlisted the help of friends, including vocalist Eleni
Castro, violinist Eve Amendola, and flutist Sarah Boucher for debut record Owlpine.

Seer Group's Jason Rozen has a history of working with — and helping out — his friends. In 2005, with an interest in starting his own DIY label, he created Grinding Tapes as a means to release his longtime pal Elijah Wyman's solo record, Why We Never Go Swimming and Other Short Stories. Two years later, the now-29-year-old Boxford native would provide Wyman with another, more important assist: his own kidney.

When the two share the stage Wednesday at Seer Group's record release party for Owlpine, an electronic pop record curated by Rozen with the help of nine other contributors, including Wyman, it will mark the fifth anniversary of the friends' kidney transplant. The date gives the show added depth — two friends sharing more than a musical rapport — but it also underscores the emotion behind Owlpine, a warm and inviting synthpop experience that's more an organic, atmospheric piece than it is a dance record. Rozen crafted the music at his home studio, then sent it out to contributors for lyrics and other layers and details, bringing the players to his studio to flesh out his ideas.

The one collaborator who never set foot in Rozen's Andover studio, ironically, was Wyman. His vocal contributions to Owlpines— including the punchy "Year of the Flame" and luminescent ballad "Decent Lovers" — were recorded via email, roughly 700 miles away in Wyman's own home studio in North Carolina, where he's lived for the past few years. The distance was no obstacle. "I feel like my relationship with him is different," Wyman says of Rozen. "I'm an only child, so he's as close as it gets to having a sibling. Jason's been really supportive from the beginning. With Seer Group, it was about having fun, just trading sounds."

In addition to appearing with Seer Group at next week's Middle East show, Wyman will play a set with his pop project, the Decent Lovers. En route to NXNE in Toronto, he said he chose the anniversary date when it was offered by the Cambridge venue, though he didn't remind Rozen of the significance until after the show was booked. Rozen, however, still doesn't think much of his gesture. "It wasn't a big deal," he says with a casual shrug. "I was really happy to do it; it helped me to deal with some feelings I was having, that I wasn't able to make a difference in others' lives."

Though Rozen has been making electronic music since he was in high school, he admits his work "never got the point where I was really happy with it." But with Seer Group, he was intrigued by creating a foundation of sounds and allowing other artists to build on it, merging organic and electronic efffects like Icelandic artists Mum and Björk, and relying on "the simplicity of my elements."

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