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Losing a lead singer can be debilitating, let alone one as dazzling as Mary Ognibene. A couple of years after this Buffalo, NY outfit’s 2011 debut LP 4am – which I called “groovy, sometimes trippy and dreamy electronic music” in issue 68 – Ognibene left the band, eventually forming The Lovely Intangibles in late 2014 with three members of New York’s The Lost Patrol (who had been on hiatus following their frontwoman Mollie Israel’s pregnancy). Not satisfied with the replacement singers he’d been auditioning, DM’s founding keyboardist/guitarist and songwriter Rich Flierl ended up using Ognibene’s vocal tracks – recorded before her departure – for most of the songs on the group’s 2016 second album A Swan’s Song, with temporary singer Shana James taking the lead on two tunes.
With the need for a permanent lead singer pressing, Flierl announced new vocalist Maria Sebastian in October 2016. And lo and behold, she’s every bit as beguiling and breathtaking as her predecessor! (She also carries impressive credentials: in addition to her six solo LPs beginning with her 1999 debut The Other Side of the Room, Sebastian is a 12-time Buffalo/Nightlife Music Award winner, former touring 10,000 Maniacs backing vocalist, eight-time opener for The Byrds’ Roger McGuinn, and a college writing, public speaking, and music business professor.) This EP’s three distinctive tunes, which she co-wrote with Flierl, showcase her multifarious skills. The riveting, remorseful title track denotes a dramatic new direction for the group, resembling a candlelit, classical-tinged recital or aria. Accompanied only by Flierl’s resounding piano, Sebastian addresses the aftermath of a devastating divorce, delivering an ardent, anguished apology to her ex-lover in a commanding croon.
Shifting styles, the dynamic, danceable “Sin Nombre” is more reminiscent of DM’s previous two LPs. Backed by warm, pulsating percussive beats and icy, submerged synths, “Sin” finds the spectral, speakers-filling chanteuse delectably dissing anonymous online attention-seekers, declaring, “The troll online/Say what you want/Then hide behind some avatar.” Finally, on the enchanting, chiming chillwave/ambient ballad “Botan,” she improves upon an instrumental from the previous LP by adding lovingly sung lyrics, on which she anxiously anticipates the onset of spring. What DM does next is anyone’s guess, but with the diverse and divine Sebastian on board, the options appear endless. (dotsunmoondotsunmoon.bandcamp.com, dotsunmoon.com)
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