A duo based out of Brooklyn, New York, Fine Place was formed after Matthew Hord relocated to the city from Chicago, and teamed up with Frankie Rose. The duo, who have both previously found acclaim as solo artists and within bands, wanted to explore something different, in their own words, “an attempt to capture the dystopian feel of New York during a period of desertion by the wealthy”. The result is the pair’s debut album, This New Heaven, released last month via Night School Records.
Despite its distinctly modern themes, This New Heaven seems to look back to a more classically dystopian time, namely the mid-80s, when predicting the world’s slow robotic death was all the rage. Taking musical cues from the worlds of goth and synth-pop, Fine Place incorporate a range of retro sounds from modular synths through to 808-beats and reverberating, semi-glacial vocals. Perhaps what’s most impressive about Fine Place’s music is the sheer vastness of it, you can almost feel the towering skyscrapers and the looming, lingering shadows they cast across the city streets below. Particularly wonderful is recent single Cover Blind, which matches the industrial intensity of The Twilight Sad with the twitchy harmonies of Fever Ray. Elsewhere, Tell Me A Second Time is a brighter number, with twitchy mechanical percussion, twinkling synths and layered, almost choral, vocals, while if the title track, This New Heaven, isn’t featured on the new series of Stranger Things, then the producers aren’t looking hard enough. Completing the 80s vibe they even find room for a cover of the 1989 track The Party Is Over by Belgian group Adult Fantasies, a track they describe as, “one of the great over-looked ballads of the era”. Is this a new heaven? A fine place? Or perhaps something altogether more sinister, whatever world this record is born into, it’s one that deserves plenty of people to cast their ear its way.
FTR: For those who don’t know, who are Fine Place?
Fine Place is Frankie Rose and Matthew Hord, based in New York City. We make music in several different projects and configurations, but with Fine Place we use a smattering of electronic and stringed instruments to compose our songs.
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
Fine Place is a brand new project and we have yet to perform live (due to, well… relatively obvious reasons over the past two years), but have a major directive to and are currently strategizing it. I (Matthew) also play in Frankie’s eponymous band and we did just do a 40-day tour across the United States with the Philadelphia band Nothing (Relapse Records), so we’ve been lucky to have immediately started playing out in some configuration once the lockdowns lifted.
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
We have both dabbled in other artforms previously and/or simultaneously. We see creating music as a discipline or medium, not dissimilar to sculpture or illustration, etc. One may inspire and lead to the other depending on the factors in life; motivation to produce in one medium can go in waves. I personally didn’t play music from 2004-2009 and was solely concentrated on a different medium. However, one random trip with friends to a new noise/experimental performance space in Chicago sparked inspiration for whatever reason and I almost immediately formed a new band (which ended up becoming my longstanding project Running). Almost on the same tip, a frequent painting collaborator of mine and I had a falling out in 2010 and it ended up dissuading me from continuing to work in that medium. Environmental and social influence can really dictate the motivation, but I’m personally happy as long as I’m creating something and participating in anything in life.
FTR: What can people expect from the Fine Place live show?
As with Frankie’s namesake live sets, we expect it to be a fully immersive, multimedia experience. I guess this ties into the question above, as well — we’re not necessarily content just performing the music we produced — we really would like to bring more visual or compelling elements into the equation to truly feel fulfilled. It’s also why we place a high value on the sequencing of albums and record artwork — presentation is crucial to the full experience.
FTR: What’s next for Fine place?
Good question! We’ve already begun writing and recording new ideas, but we would love to begin playing out in the 2022 timeframe. I guess that also depends on how much further society unravels due to the various detriments at play? All you can really do is make your art and try to exist as best you can in this capitalist-driven cesspool.
They Listen To…
Insides – Darling Effect (4AD/Guernica, 1993)
Andy Stott – Too Many Voices (Modern Love, 2016)
Steve Hauschildt ft. Julianna Barwick – Saccade (Ghostly, 2018)
Jenny Hval – Spells (Sacred Bones, 2018)
HTRK – You Know How to Make Me Happy (Ghostly, 2019)