Ava Luna | Ice Level

Infinite Best (2011)
By LIZ PELLY  |  February 28, 2012
4.0 4.0 Stars

Ava Luna is an experiment in off-kilter pop songcraft that melds R&B, soul, and synth-funk into an unusual shade of noisy post-punk gold. The Brooklyn septet is fronted by soul-singer Carlos Hernandez (a former music composition student at Columbia, who is also the band's songwriter, arranger, and producer) plus three doo-wop-inspired female singers, a bassist, synth player, and drummer. On the vinyl collection Ice Level, which follows a string of self-releases and 2010's Services EP, all seven seem coolly disconnected, yet they serendipitously create a breed of tight, artful avant-funk so rare that it requires repeated listens to understand. On stand-out tracks like "Ice Level (Parts 1 & 2)," four voices twist and turn, crooning on lovesick lines that run into surprising staccato falsetto, prickly synths, and math-y drumbeat breakdowns. At other moments, it sounds like the bass, synth, and drums are beat-boxing on the sidelines, surrounding the singers as they hum, holler, and harmonize ("Wrenning Day"). Ice Level is an essential collection that will fit perfectly on the vinyl shelf between Dirty Projectors' Bitte Orca and The Ultimate Aaliyah. The sound is as swoon-inducing as it is complex. A brilliant debut full-length.
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