HYPE: Exquisite Corps, Exquisite Corps

Exquisite Corps is a six-piece string-infused rock band doing something no one else is doing in music right now. That on its own would be cause for attention, but the fact that their results are some of the most tuneful and darkly magical compositions I’ve ever heard elevates this band to true contender status. When you hear the songs, you’ll understand what I mean.

Exquisite Corps
Release Date: July 25th, via independent release

01.Tone Poem

02.Light as a Feather

03.Windswept

04.Carried by Waves

05.Tyger Wine

06.I Want What I Want

07.Selah

You may have heard other bands with a string player or two; this is something different: alternative rock music developed specifically with string accompaniment in mind. Combining an indie rock trio and classical string trio, the palette is rather lush and ethereal all over this self-titled, seven song debut album. Musical mastermind and frontman Bryan Valenzuela composes subtle, creeping melodies, singing with a range and intensity meeting somewhere between Jeff Buckley and Nick Cave and delivering memorable hooks and lyrics at every turn. Ably backed by the rhythm section of Robby Dean (drums) and Nathan Webb (bass), the foundation of these tracks is powerful and deliberate. Add to this mixture a fiery trio of string players– Krystyna Taylor (cello), Reylynn Goessling (violin), Kristin Arnold (viola)– playing arrangements which ebb and flow in ahem exquisite form and driving the compositions with a sinewy, siren-like pull, and the result is simply without peer in our modern music landscape, elegantly conjured and deftly engaging.

This is not just a unique band, they’re a mightily fulfilling sonic experience from multiple cultural angles. Bryan Valenzuela’s arrangements are a true delight from a classical and alt-rock perspective, and the production allows the ominous guitar tones, ebullient strings, and cavernous rhythmic thuds to coexist in equal and glorious sonic space. Truly one of the most exhilarating and original debut albums I’ve heard, and hopefully the first of many more to come.

Here’s a glimpse of one of their non-album tracks, from a show at Sacramento’s Crocker Art Museum:

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For more on Exquisite Corps, go to facebook.com/excorpsmusic.
Photo design by Melissa Arendt and Jess Vasquez.

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