Nasturtium is an edible flower, but my first time seeing the word (which was when I got an email about this album) made me think it was a black metal band. That dichotomy is an excellent metaphor for the compositional qualities of Please Us. In this case, Nasturtium is the duo of Erin Dawson and Geneva Skeen, two artists with disparate approaches that combine to create something beautiful and memorable.
Please Us is seamless, filled with hidden spaces and surprise passages that create an interconnected universe where two people find understanding and connection. Dawson and Skeen met as the pandemic began last year and started collaborating by sending stems back and forth, even though they lived in the same neighborhood (the first-ever drone record meet-cute as Dawson laughingly told me recently). There’s a cautious vulnerability throughout Please Us, a pensive tension where decisions to pull back or show more hang with an added weight.
Hypnotic piano passages line the entry of the spectral “I Remember Everything, Almost Constantly.” Textured drones push against the surface, almost chasing the looping piano like a desperate ghost searching for an earthly connection. Guitar chords build new walls, the electronic tremors crashing against them to break through, building to a distorted crescendo. Throughout Please Us is the sense of care, of making sure to create space for those around us to feel cared for and to feel safe in those expressions.
“Masseter” is built on a contemplative guitar loop hovering above this roiling sonic sea, a beacon to aim for where time stands still and the apprehension outside can’t get in. Fleeting moments dissipate as if disintegrated by the sunlight beamed in through synth sequences and effervescent hiss. Dawson and Skeen intertwine themselves in ways impossible to separate, fusing at the core. This understated affection glows on “Masseter,” the image of two people sharing stolen glances and the impact of instant connection.
Music is meant to be felt as much as it is heard. Please Us encases the singular experiences of last year in resin, a crystalized remembrance that will forever hold weight. The emotional heaviness and twisting tonal pathways spread through Please Us invites anyone willing to open themselves to experience the excitement, trepidation, tenderness, and, especially, affection of this journey. Beyond all, it’s an engaging album with multitudes of dense layers. Exploring these sonic corridors makes for one special trip.
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