Throughout 2008 and 2009, Second Land, an audio/visual collective from here in Baltimore, were busy performing across the east coast. These shows went on to become Copycat Sessions, the band’s second album available now from Earstroke Records. What is captured on the album is more than just live recordings. Each of Second Land’s sets were completely improvised, and the result is an album that sounds natural and organic, as if the sounds are happening around you in real time.
Second Land uses a wide range of instruments to create their soundscapes, including guitars, flutes, and a theremin. They also stretch the definition of what can be an instrument, including sounds from cellphones, answering machines, and even a slinky.
What is great about this album is that it weaves itself into the fabric of whereever you are listening. Each track, which are described as “audio collages” on the Earstroke website, feel like they become part of your surroundings, as if you aren’t listening to an album at all. Because, in a sense, Copycat Sessions is not an album. Because each track is a live jam recording, the entire album has a calm sense of spontaneity to it.
The album takes it’s name from the famous Copycat Building, which has also played host to artists such as Dan Deacon and Grimes. In addition to the Copycat, Second Land takes us to Silver Spring (The Pyramid Atlantic) and DC (the Velvet Lounge and Artomatic). Because the album is comprised of multiple shows, each track can stand alone, while still connecting to the over-all tone of the The Copycat Sessions.
As a whole, the album is warm and calm. In fact, it should be considered for this year’s alternative summer soundtrack. Not the soundtrack of beach parties and sunny vacation; the other summer. This is the soundtrack of sweaty evenings spent sitting on a porch after a day of doing something amazing like chasing trains for the hell of it.
This is an album that has a very physical quality to it. It is a nice contrast to the heavily produced, synthetic music that is so prevalent today. Again, I think the fact that each track was recorded live is what creates this feeling, but there is something else to it. This is an album that is more than heard, it is experienced. It is available for purchase on limited edition cassette, which only fuels this physical quality (and of course a digital version is available).
There is a very specific kind of listening space for ambient music, that Copycat Sessions is very capable of filling. Go to the Second Land or Earstroke site to listen and purchase the album.
Bryan Flynn is a recent graduate of the University of Maryland where he studied English and American Studies. Living in Washington DC, he spends his nights behind a local bar, as well as works with a local arts space to book shows and bring people together through music and art.