October 12th, 2017 | Album reviews

Have You Been Here Before EP
Danger Collective

Los Angeles quartet Raener‘s debut EP Have You Been Here Before is a compact yet complex exercise in the manipulation of momentum. Analog and synthetic sounds are interwoven to create a deep, topographically sophisticated space for Daniel Fox’s reserved tenor to navigate. Raener [which includes L.A. RECORD contributor Zach Bilson—ed.] alternates between moments of caution and reckless abandon as digital bloops and spirals ricochet off hand claps, clattering drumsticks, horns and heavyweight piano, all of which coalesce into a soundscape darker and more lush than the sum of its parts. There is an anxious kind of chill—a breath held for a second—as the EP launches from the precipice of first track “No Sun” toward to the cavernous loneliness of closer “NYC,” making even the brightest moments—the shimmering chorus of “Howard County” or the faux harpsichord twinkles of “Look Up”—pregnant with unease. The production is as slick as it is exacting: each track is stacked with strategically spotlit layers, crafted with love for the headphone generation. As a debut, it’s promising and dreamy, and it hints at the cosmic existential crises from which—and through which—the band sprints, sneaks and wanders.

—Christina Gubala