Days of summer
“Time is the essence of music,” says Alex Korostinsky. “Music passes over time. That’s how we experience it.”
Korostinsky is known around the local music scene for his involvement in funk and pop projects like the Mark Sexton Band, Whatitdo and the John Whites. But his new project is something else entirely: a sun-drenched, shoegazing rock ’n’ roll duo called Synthesize Her. He teamed with songwriter and vocalist Alex Crowe to create an album of catchy, elegant rock sounds that draw liberal inspiration from ’90s bands like My Bloody Valentine, as well as evoking some of the elegant atmosphere of contemporary acts like Beach House.
The project started over a year ago, just as the summer was beginning, and Crowe was struck but what she describes as a wave of inspiration, writing three songs one afternoon, and five more in the span of a couple of weeks.
She and Korostinsky were dating at the time, and she showed her song ideas to him. (They continued their creative partnership even after an amicable romantic break-up.) He loved the songs, and helped flesh out the harmonic arrangements. They recorded basic demos of the songs last summer, and then recorded and released them as a free online album, Sun Damage, earlier this summer.
The album has attracted international attention, earning some positive reviews on European websites, and it’s easy to hear why. The production is gorgeous: electronic beats, made on an iPhone but often evoking old-school drum machines, accompany big, swirling, fuzzy guitars and Crowe’s dynamic, commanding alto. A strong sense of melody saturates every part, even the noisy guitars.
“The trick to having a successful song … is having great melody,” says Korostinsky. “I wanted to just soak it in melody, because I thought it deserved it. We wouldn’t be doing the song any justice if we were just like, these are the chords, this is the beat, here’s the vocals.”
But the songs always support Crowe’s vocals, which are haunting and intriguing, high enough in the mist to be center stage, but murky enough to be mysterious. She’s originally from Melbourne, Australia, and speaks and sings with a partially buried accent. She moved to the U.S. before high school, and came to Reno for college at the University of Nevada, Reno, studying interior design. She sang in choirs as a kid, but this is her first experience singing for a rock band.
“This is totally a project of passion,” she says. “From the beginning, it was like, this is an album for fun. We don’t give a shit what anyone thinks. Want it to be free. I want to do one huge, crazy, mindfuck show. That was it.”
She seems bursting with energy that she’s building up to explode at the show. She claims that the group’s upcoming show at the Holland Project, 140 Vesta St., on Sept. 6 will be their only one. They’ve assembled an all-star band for the gig. They’ll be joined by two of the best guitarists in the area, Julian Jacobs and Ryan Hall, as well as David Alastair on synthesizer and Aaron Chiazza on drums.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Sun Damage is the way it manages to evoke a specific time of year: the feeling of early summer, when the world seems young and full of possibilities, permeates all of the reverberating sounds and songs.
“The main goal we had for this album was to have it be an album of the summer,” says Korostinsky.
Since, as Korostinsky says, time is the essence of music, one hallmark of good music is that it evokes specific times of day and times of year. Sun Damage is an album of 2 p.m. on a Saturday in mid June.