What you hear is not what you see with Corsica Arts Club. The Los Angeles-based duo of Arash Parsee and Brendan Thompson (expanded to a five-piece live) look to the studio gear used on albums from the musicians with the most influence on them—Kraftwerk, David Bowie, Iggy Pop—to create the breezy electronic and sandy analog sounds on their self-titled four-track debut EP.
In their airy, garage-turned-home-studio space, the two have amassed a collection of pawn shop, Craig’s List, and eBay vintage equipment that feels like a trip back in time. Fans of “destructive” recording, a term they’ve coined as the antithesis to non-destructive recording, Parsee and Thomspon keep a sound they like and slot everything around that, removing the option to start from scratch. For example, the screeching heard on EP opener, “Untamed,” is Thompson’s voice—even if it doesn’t sound human at all.
“I sang a melody into the computer, like David Byrne when he was speaking in tongues, creating melodies rather than actual words,” he says. “I recorded that and mapped it out on an Akai MPK49 MIDI keyboard. Then I had to fit it on the chord progression which already existed.”
“We stripped the melody down to the catchiest part,” Parsee says. “The synthesized vocal effect is doubled with a Moog synthesizer. But through all that processing, it’s still [Thompson’s] voice, and that’s as analog as you can get.”
Talking Heads is also referenced on “California I Follow,” where Adrian Belew’s guitar solo on “Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)” is emulated by doing riffs, chopping them up, putting them through echo, chopping some more, more echo, and finally bussing a synthesizer. Barely heard in the mix, it’s one of the unique sounds on the song, which also features a Roland Space Echo feeding back into itself on every chorus, backward piano “like the beginning of Duran Duran’s Rio” on the bridge, and an ARP playing what sounds like Morse code.