Kendra Steiner Editions (Bill Shute)

September 7, 2015

The Garment District/Jennifer Baron/KSE featured in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 5:01 am

Garment District leaks a ‘Toxin’

With its second proper album, The Garment District already takes a departure, spinning off into an ambient world that would work as the soundtrack for a suspense film.

The Garment District is the Pittsburgh-based project of Jennifer Baron, a former member of Brooklyn indie band Ladybug Transistor. In Pittsburgh she is also known as a coordinator of Handmade Arcade and co-editor and contributing photographer for the book “Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania.”

Last year’s full-length Garment District debut was a dreamy synth-pop record topped with the airy vocals of her cousin Lucy Evans Blehar. She returns with “Luminous Toxin,” an all-instrumental piece commissioned by Kendra Steiner Editions, a San Antonio, Texas-based company specializing in poetry and experimental music. Poet/founder Bill Shute introduces the record with an essay saying the Garment District’s soundscapes “evoke a world … where I’d like to live,” comparing it to the work of Brian Eno.

That’s “a massive honor,” Ms. Baron says, calling the electronic pioneer “a lifelong artistic inspiration and cultural hero” and an artist who is “forward-thinking and progressive.”

She met Mr. Shute several years ago in Pittsburgh, passing along to him a copy of the Garment District’s debut cassette “Melody Elder” and full-length “If You Take Your Magic Slow.” He admired her work, and she loved his.

“Bill’s aesthetic and approach is all about supporting the artist’s vision for a release, so there are absolutely no imposed, preconceived or projected notions of what KSE is looking for. I felt encouraged to explore new — or further develop — music that’s a bit more adventurous, ambient, longform and experimental.”

“Luminous Toxin” took shape in part when Ms. Baron was asked to compose and perform music as part of the SYNC’D series at The New Bohemian gallery on the North Side, pairing local musicians with filmmakers and videographers. She was asked to write music for five short films, then perform the pieces at the former North Side church.

When she was invited to make music for Kendra Steiner, she says, “Concepts for the album had been swirling around in my head for quite some time, allowing me to revisit some of the music I had composed for SYNC’D, begin brand new compositions, finalize demos I already had in progress, dive into using my newly acquired Roland JX-3P synthesizer, and pick up my bass guitar again.”

She recorded at home over the harsh winter while binge-watching episodes of Rod Serling’s TV series “Night Gallery.”

“A lot of thought and care goes into my process,” she says, “even if the end result is more free form or experimental. Each individual bit is how it’s communicating itself to me. I’m very interested in an intersection of orchestrated pristine pop music, and the vibe and feel of more ambient experimental stuff.”

The record release show will feature songs from all of Garment District’s works, with a lineup that also features guitarist Dan Koshute (Dazzletine), drummer Shivika Asthana (Papas Fritas) and singer Ashlee Green (Butterbirds).

The Garment District release show is at 9 p.m. Friday at Howlers, Bloomfield, with Herbcraft (from Maine), Sagas with guitarist Matt McDowell and DJ KMFD (Keith DeVries). Admission is $6;

(originally published in the PIttsburgh Post-Gazette, 3 September 2015)

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