Release Date: Jan 31, 2012
Record label: Mexican Summer
Genre(s): Electronic, Rap, Trip-Hop, Electronica, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Electronic, Left-Field Hip-Hop
The name of Lilacs & Champagne’s self-titled debut suggests the proper ingredients to a romantic evening. The mysterious, trippy music that defines the album, however, is anything but romantic. At times, it’s sinister. Lilacs & Champagne, who take their name from a song by ‘70s progger Czes?aw Niemen, is the side project by Alex Hall and Emil Amos, two members of the Portland-based instrumental band Grails.
The first seven seconds of Lilacs & Champagne's self-titled album contain an appropriated piece of music so instantly resonant to a particular segment of listenership that it might dictate the way they hear the remainder of the album. It's the short fanfare ITC Entertainment used in its mid-1970s pre-show identification, smothered under enough reverb and crackle to evoke something not entirely dusted off before being spooled up, and if you recognize it at all it's probably from one of two contexts: either the beginning of "The Muppet Show" or "It's a Big Daddy Thing". Say what you will about pop-music hauntology and its reliance on plucking at our memories, but that kind of cue isn't the entire conversation-- just an attention-getting way to start one.
Alex Hall and Emil Amos, founding members of Portland, Oregon psych instrumentalists Grails, take a step toward sample-happy, hip-hop-influenced sounds with the formation of side project Lilacs & Champagne. While Grails' later experimental epics wring hypnotic sounds from organic instruments, Lilacs & Champagne's self-titled debut refines that approach some and applies it to a smattering of obtuse samples and sound sources. Influenced deeply by the fractured hip-hop productions of Madlib and J-Dilla, the record was written and performed primarily using an Akai MPC sampler.