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San Fermin

San Fermin (Downtown)

Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., March 14, 2014

SXSW 2014 Records

San Fermin

(Downtown)

San Fermin joyously toys with balance and incongruity. Debut project from Brooklyn composer Ellis Ludwig-Leone, San Fermin seems more an exploration of intricately paralleled perspectives than a coherent octet, yet the result enthralls through layered arrangements that burst between electro-pop frenzy and dramatic, swooning orchestration. Brought to realization behind the countering vocals of Allen Tate and Lucius duo Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, Ludwig-Leone's compositions remain compelling as the alternating leads wind into an eventual tourniquet together. Tate's low croon hearkens the National's Matt Berninger with corresponding melancholy, while Wolfe and Laessig trill high harmonies into chaotic eruptions. Their "Crueler Kind" and "Sonsick" move from sparse beats into Sufjan-esque, horn-laced choruses, leaping in revolt from Tate's moody, plodding "Casanova" and "Daedalus (What We Have)." Trilogy centerpiece "Methuselah," "At Sea," and "Torero" edge into the atonal clang of "At Night, True Love," which jars most dramatically. An ornate, ambitious debut. (9pm, Latitude 30)

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