While it might not feel like it at the minute, 2020 is a year to celebrate for Minnesota’s Good Night Gold Dust, marking as it does, their ten-year anniversary as a band. With touring, rehearsing, or even seeing one another currently off the table, the band wanted to find a way to stay creative, and thankfully they’ve managed just that. Trading the recording studio for a bedroom, Laura Schultz and band member, turned producer, Colin Scharf, decided to work within the confines of quarantine, and have recorded a brand-new single, Owls, which we’re premiering here today.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Owls results in something of a sonic departure for Good Night Gold Dust, the band embracing the limitations and freedoms of working in a different manner. Laura notes the sadness of bandmates who, “live five minutes away”, yet couldn’t play on the track or be involved in the mixing process, while Colin admits, “it was refreshing to work on this one at home, without worrying about studio costs”. Colin even found time to complete some musical goals he’d never got close to previously, “I finally recorded this busted old accordion that I’ve been hauling around for years. It felt adventurous”.
The result of this change of approach is a different musical pallet to anything the band have worked on previously, the track arrives on gentle processed keys, before Laura’s vocal enters with a touch of Natalie Prass or Jenny Lewis; it’s perfectly melodious and lightly distorted, cracking with just a touch of static, that hints at what’s to come. Across the tracks three and a half minutes, in some ways it barely changes, the same chilling keyboard line, the same easy vocal, yet within those parameters, they warp and bend everything. A wave of ominous bassy synth cuts across the track then departs, fluttering processed percussion threatens to appear then dissolves back into the ether, a second, heavily processed vocal line mimics the main line, sounding like it might engulf it entirely, then fades without ever standing in its light.
The accompanying music video is footage excerpted from a 1982 US National Park Services film. “I’d been searching for public domain videos,” says Laura, “and playing ‘Owls’ in the background to see if a video might match the music. The footage we ended up using is like three and a half minutes into that National Parks video. Everything synched up almost perfectly. We only made a couple edits”. The video’s scenes of the natural world in all its freedom and tranquility seem to play off against the processed, heavily constrained music, a perfect contradiction if such a thing could exist.
This may not be the anniversary that Good Night Gold Dust had planned, yet they’re making the best of a bizarre situation, approaching constraints with creativity and pushing their music into intriguing new territories as a result. While the celebrations might be on hold, when the time is right, Good Night Gold Dust are going to be beautifully placed for one hell of a party.
Owls is out now. Click HERE for more information on Good Night Gold Dust.