Other duos like The White Stripes, The Black Keys, and Japandroids have taught music fans that two people alone can make a lot of noise. While Deep Time will not necessarily tear one’s eardrums, the band does join the ranks of bands you have to see to believe. Earlier this year, the band released a self-titled album on Seattle label Hardly Art, and their music gave no clues of being performed by only two people. It is not until the live show that it’s revealed: Moore plays guitar, organ, octave pedal and sings, while Jones commands the drums, bass synth, live loops and also sings.
Seeing them each play more than one instrument at a time is very impressive, but they do it in such a subtle manner that it seems effortless. Even though there is a lot of sonic action onstage, the collective sound does not feel overbearing; instead, it sounds lean, with just the right amount and balance of each instrument.
While the new album has been garnering the band more attention than ever, Jones and Moore started Deep Time in 2006. Before having to change their name due to a name dispute with a clothing company, the band was a trio known as Yellow Fever. Out of the necessity of providing merch on tour, they released a couple EPs and 7″ records, and in 2009 they released a self-titled LP on Vivian Girls’ label Wild World. Somewhere between those releases they lost their third member, which could have lead to some difficult times, but Jones and Moore used it as an opportunity to grow instead.
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Deep Time – “Clouds” Music Video
Compared to their previous releases, Moore says that the new album feels like a new step, like a graduation ceremony of sorts. The songs on the album are the first batch that she and Jones worked on as a duo, and they turned out to be more time-consuming than their former work.
Deep Time was recorded at the studio of their friend Barrett Walton in East Austin. The process took two or three months, Moore notes, but the sessions were spread out over a span of a year-and-a-half.
“We just wanted it to sound really perfect,” Moore says. “Especially since there’s not a lot of reverb; we can’t cover [any shortcomings] up.”
Listening to songs like “Coleman” and lead single “Clouds” shows one that Deep Time embraces a stop-and-go style that keeps listeners engaged. Grooves are set but quickly interrupted with contrasting ideas – yet the songs feel almost weightless, which all floats back to the idea of being “minimal”.
The album’s second track, “Sgt. Sierra”, is a good example of the band’s uncluttered quality. It begins with a simple line that almost sounds toy-like, and as Moore starts singing, it’s just her, the bass and a really light touch of percussion. Her cadence is slightly faster than speaking speed, and the tone is neutral, as though she is just walking around her neighborhood making casual observations – but the combinations of instruments and the strategic placement of ornaments make the song interesting to listen to.
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Deep Time – “Coleman” Music Video
What makes Deep Time so compelling is the ability to create a nice balance of instruments and build layers that are compiled in a manner that is not messy or overstated. Another prime example is “Homebody.” Though its instrumentation is pretty traditional, with guitar, bass and drums, it still has a longing and gloomy feel that stays just below the radar. It is as if the song is stripped down to just its skeleton; Moore’s voice is not riled up, but there is strong sentiment behind it.
At times Deep Time’s music may sound hollow, but the melody somehow remains sticky in every song, which is not a quality injected by accident. Moore has a very conscious desire to make pop music. It’s just not what the type one might think.
“I like pop music, but I get really bored with hearing the same sounds over and over again,” she explains. “I think it’s a good challenge to get something stuck in someone’s head but challenge them at the same time.”
While Moore focuses on the melody, Jones mixes in his influences from free jazz and noise music. They want to provide the world with an interesting take on pop music, but Moore says that such experimentation is also about keeping herself engrossed in her creation.
“I want the songs to be dynamic,” she explains. “I want them to go somewhere. [That] keeps it interesting to me, but I don’t want it to happen in the same way [every time]… ”
The writing process to make a song dynamic varies from song to song, Moore says. There are times where she just writes and all the parts end up contrasting and making sense by chance. But most of the time, she deliberately writes an array of different parts and then, like in crafting a puzzle, works on making the pieces relate to one another.
The effort put into creating their music shows that, in the case of Moore and Jones, being minimal is not easy. They do not have plans to add more band members in the near future, but judging by the new album, they seem to be doing more than fine as a duo. And most importantly, they enjoy the constraints that they put on themselves.
Perhaps Moore sums it up best by saying, “I’m out to make little discoveries.”
By pushing themselves, Jones and Moore are able to see what they are truly capable of doing, and on the way, are constantly learning something new.
Deep Time – “Gold Rush” Music Video