Back from a national tour, Dark Dark Dark will mark its new EP with a Minneapolis concert this week.
Call them whatever you want, but don't lump Minneapolis chamber folk band Dark Dark Dark in with any other accordion-wielding act. There's a lot more to focus on in this sextet, like their melodic orchestral arrangements or their bespectacled lead singer Nona Marie Invie, whose dark-roast voice is as rich as it is stimulating.
The band's fans, Invie believes, are the type of people "who are excited that they can't categorize my music."
Dark Dark Dark's previous single, "Trouble No More," has received nearly 80,000 MySpace plays, and its last full-length release, "The Snow Magic," received rave reviews from local press and national music blogs alike. The new EP "Bright Bright Bright" has received airplay on The Current, and the single "Make Time" is in heavy rotation on Radio K.
The group has added two new members: Walter McClements, a jazz multi-instrumentalist from New Orleans, and Brett Bullion, of the Minneapolis indie group Tarlton. Along with bassist Todd Chandler and singer/cellist Jonathan Kaiser, Dark Dark Dark recently wrapped up a national tour, including a performance at the South by Southwest music festival in Texas.
The band has a foot in other media, as well, starring in and penning music for "Flood Tide," a feature-length film, directed by Chandler, about musicians grasping for meaning in life with an impending flood as a metaphor. For its EP-release show Thursday at the Cedar Cultural Center, the group is adding a four-person choir.
A brighter direction
Many adjectives come up when one listens to a Dark Dark Dark song: smoky, rich, lush, organic and yes, dark. So what's with calling the group's fourth release and second EP "Bright Bright Bright"? Aside from clearly favoring the rule of threes, the members see themselves moving in a new, more hopeful direction.
"I was trying to pull myself out of a routine of writing darker or gloomier music," said Invie.
The new EP collects songs developed for various projects.
"Make Time," a single full of layered chanting and Euro-cafe arrangements reminiscent of the Decemberists, was recorded as part of a collaborative project when the group visited Italy. "It's the hottest summer jam we've ever done," said singer Marshall LaCount with a laugh.
Another track, "Flood," featuring jaunty but emotionally reserved vocals and throaty strings, was created as part of the "Flood Tide" soundtrack.
"Bright Bright Bright" was recorded at Duluth's Sacred Heart Music Center. Built in 1896, the space was a cathedral for nearly a century, then was saved from the wrecking ball and reborn as a nonprofit recording studio. The space's high, swooping ceilings and stained glass windows provided an atmosphere that LaCount said was "helpful for our energy and the way we play together."
The group is highly involved in the local music scene, counting noise band Skoal Kodiak and string-heavy act Brute Heart among their favorite fellow musicians.
"I think there's a lot of writing and arranging going on that requires careful and adventurous listening," LaCount said, "It's one of my favorite parts about Minneapolis music."
Rebecca Lang is a University of Minnesota journalism student on assignment for the Star Tribune.