Intimacy rears its powerful head in the world of mmeadows. A true collaborative duo, Kristin Slipp and Cole Kamen-Green complement and balance one another in a way that speaks to the depth of their musical connection. On the auditory spectrum, the sounds they create are purposefully close and exposed. From the first seconds of “By Design,” the first song on NYC-based mmeadows’ first full-length Light Moves Around You, the warped and fluid chord progression holds your hand as you step onto the boat, lets you get your sea legs, and by twelve seconds in pulls you tight with a moment of total silence. Then a human breath. Then Kristin Slipp sings. Her words are concrete and liquid, with the words “pavement” and “waves” coming at you fast but never throwing you off. This music allows you in unapologetically, which is intimate as hell.
A mutual respect and admiration for each other’s abilities is the source of this intimacy. Cole describes Kristin’s superpower as her mind-voice connectivity. The way she can hear a song and begin tracking the scale degrees of the melody by touching different parts of her hand. Kristin describes Cole’s superpower as an ability to zoom out and observe their attempts holistically, contextualizing their creations within the big picture.
Inside the band, they balance one another. Outside, the two offer these gifts to others: Kristin is a member of Dirty Projectors, with writing credit on their 2020 release 5 EPs. Cole, as a sought-after instrumentalist, has crafted horn parts collaboratively with Beyonce, arranged and recorded for Harry Styles and Diana Ross, and performed with Laurie Anderson.
Throughout the record Light Moves Around You, water imagery comes back again and again. There’s talk of the shore, fountains, rivers, the horizon, concepts that feel eternal and constant while shifting all the same. A paradox, if it wasn’t so visible in our natural world. Occasionally a change comes at you in mmeadows’ music that alters your foundation, and the shift can feel positively tectonic.
Shifts of such magnitude, in the bottom disappearing from the beat, in the voice blooming from an intricate solo presence to a harmonized top shelf choral hook, in the appearance of a trumpet where there once was no trumpet at all, they give the listener the business with a wink of maturity that we are often hard pressed to find in this all-too-modern world. Pop music can become the instrument of a blunt force trauma, mixed as loud as possible, if the sub isn’t thumping the song isn’t worth a damn…bops upon bops upon bops. mmeadows’ songs aren’t bops. A bop is cheap. A bop is sliceable, frictionless. A bop gives it all away. No mystery to be sniffed out. No discovery to be discovered. The music of mmeadows is catchy as hell, but it’s intricate and subtle, and produced in a manner that tells the listener “hey, you’re a dynamic person, as are we. Now let’s dance it out.”
And it works. Three dimensional art pop that makes you dance in the car when the 90’s grade put-your-money-on-it chorus of “Working On Me” hits. When the Stevie Wonder grade harmonic ascension in “Testify” makes you believe maybe not in something bigger, but that someone else can believe in something bigger. Magnitudes we can’t understand fully but know we can count on. Like the freezing northern waves of the Atlantic. Like the “don’t you swim in that” ripples of New York City’s East River. At the molecular level, this water is all the same, same as when GZA raps in “Liquid Swords,” as when Chet Baker plays “How Deep Is The Ocean,” as when Celine Dion sings after we patiently waited three hours for the Titanic to sink. mmeadows is just the next in that rich lineage. Sonically. Cosmically. So dance through the mystery of it all and see if you don’t have a good time.