Sincera's High Cuts//Hidden Corners is available at the artist's Bandcamp.
The first sounds you hear on High Cuts//Hidden Corners are lush and lo-fi. A moment, and there are hairpin stylistic turns and an array of textures from round and mellow vocals to distorted drums. Percussion comes in, and sets a tone that's playful and inventive.
High Cuts//Hidden Corners marks the debut of Sinecera, the self-produced project of musician Quinn Pirie. Sinecera is Pirie's first solo venture after tenures in New Haven based art rock bands Bilge Rat and Kindred Queer.
Fans of either band will feel right at home with the artist, who seems to draw equally from both wells. High Cuts//Hidden Corners has touches of the high-flying orchestral folk of Kindred Queer, filtered through the angular and distorted lens of Bilge Rat. But that's not to say that Sinecera is based on these bands—it may be the other way around. In listening to Sinecera you get a sense of Pirie as an artist. Look back at his other bands, and his input is clear as day.
High Cuts//Hidden Corners was released in November of 2018, and produced throughout the year, at the 91 Shelton practice space that used by Bilge Rat and one of Pirie’s current bands, Shy. The album was mastered by Bradford Krieger of Big Nice Studio.
If the opening track, "Moonlight," brings you into the artist's world, the rest of the album keeps you there. Sincera's drumming often takes the form of ostinatos and polyrhythms, overlapping and repeating drum sounds that enter and exit for effect throughout the pieces.
Perhaps the best example of this technique is in "Fleeting," the album's fourth track. As the track unfolds, there are two drum kits playing simultaneously, each performing different roles. These are accompanied by blown out marching snare drums and furious separate cymbals. The song ends with a short duel between the two kits. It’s as much a work of sound sculpture as a it is a performance of a song.
Sinecera also makes excellent use of Pirie as a guitarist and singer. Though primarily employed as a drummer in his previous bands, Pirie is an excellent guitarist. "Penumbra" shows him at his post-punk best, as soaring melodies are shunted into odd and unexpected meter. The writing is both beautiful and illusive—just enough to keep you happily out of your comfort zone.
There are also three poems placed strategically throughout the album and spoken by a type-to-text robot. They occur at the beginning, middle, and end of the record, and help keep time in the music's often disorienting landscape. Stitching the tracks together like this suggests that the album be listened to in sequence, and that the order of the songs is more than deliberate.
High Cuts//Hidden Corners is an album that demands—and rewards—multiple listens. The more you get to know it, the more it offers you. The hard turns start to make sense, and you begin to see more melody in the cacophony. It represents an incredibly promising debut by an artist willing to explore uncharted waters.