On April 26th, Reptaliens will release their 2nd LP VALIS via Captured Tracks. Today, they share a self-directed video for the single “Shuggie II,” a collage of vignettes portraying various human archetypes – as they might be perceived by someone not-of-this-Earth. The Portland-based group cites sci-fi, empathy and introspection as inspirations for VALIS, a contemplative answer to 2017’s analytical, outward-looking LP FM-2030. Such a switch in perspective is fitting for a musical outfit whose original motive was creating music to be shared between and for the two founding members Cole and Bambi Browning (who also happen to be married).
Reptaliens’ live performances are not to be missed, as one would expect from an act that has toured with the likes of of Montreal, STRFKR and Cults. This spring, they’ll hit the road with Turnover and Turnstile to tour North America including stops at SXSW and Treefort. Tour dates, streaming links and more can be found at Reptaliens’ new website: a 3D/360 degree exploration of the VALIS album art, which is an abstract painting by Portland-based artist Bekah Abraham. Each object from the cover is realized as a clickable link–some more hidden than others.
A synopsis of “Shuggie II” from the band’s Cole Browning:
“The video for ‘Shuggie II’ cycles through an alien’s understanding of various Earthly archetypes–each one portrayed by a different band member–culled from a collection of short stories. Together, the individual characters create a Village People-type vibe and it was fun to lean into that concept and see how everyone reacted to their assigned roles. Our dog, Hambone, kept running in front of the green screen and getting in the way of shots, so we decided the only option was to add him into the video. He’s chillin’ with the alien because dogs are aliens too.”
When Bambi and Cole Browning started writing the songs that would be become Reptaliens’ 2017 debut LP, FM-2030, they had no intention of starting a band. Focusing at first on creating music and art on a purely personal level, the project soon took off when the duo brought on Julian Kowalski (guitar) and Tyler Verigin (drums) to form a live band. The four piece swiftly delved into songwriting inspired by sci-fi art and literature, cult mentalities, and deep connections. The result was the band’s self defined genre of “dreamwave,” which connected musical influences ranging from Gary Wilson inspired jazzy lounge music, the warmth of Broadcast’s recording production, to Todd Rundgren’s outer space synth sounds.
After touring throughout most of 2017 and 2018 with STRFKR, Cults, and Of Montreal, the band returned home and went straight into renowned Portland studio Jackpot to record their sophomore LP VALIS. Titled after the 1981 Philip K. Dick novel, VALIS is a cohesive collection of songs unified in sound and structure and supported by recurring lyrical themes. Reptaliens wanted to recreate the warmth of something personal and familiar, while also providing the listener with the room to create a unique and personal relationship with the music. This duality can be found in the constructs, themes, and imagery portrayed through vocalist and bassist Bambi’s lyrical concepts. Juxtaposed against the backdrop of friendly and lighthearted pop hooks and melodies, Bambi engages her audience through motifs of loneliness, longing, abduction, isolation, and change as well as love and personal connection.
Musically, VALIS remains consistent with Reptaliens’ sound: 80’s analog synthesizers, tape delay echos, and a dreamy blend of guitar lines which ebb and flow throughout Bambi’s melodies. The songs are phantasmagoric, recorded with their signature lofi simplistic production. However, Reptaliens work from a different perspective here, instead opting for a sparse and airy atmosphere which places equal importance on the space between notes as the chord progressions themselves. Tracks like “Shuggie II” and “Sunrise, Sunset” are breezy and minimal, resulting in an intimate and personal atmosphere in which the listener can ruminate. This more minimalist approach culminates with the album ender “Heather”, a stripped down guitar track where Bambi laments the recent loss of a friend to suicide.They dynamism of VALIS comes from a balance between the band’s more introspective tracks with kinetic synth pop songs suchas “Echo Park” and “Give Me Your Love” and and the upbeat guitar driven tracks “Venetian Blinds” and “Baby Come Home.”
With FM-2030, Reptaliens divulged tales from an etic: outsiders perspective of cult kidnappings, alien abductions, and scifi speculations towards potential future realities. In VALIS, the lense is turned inwards and, through the looking glass, the 12 tracks provides an emic glimpse towards the feelings and situations of the subjective experience.
Stream “Shuggie II”: http://Reptaliens.lnk.to/ShuggieII
Pre-Order VALIS: http://Reptaliens.lnk.to/VALIS