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"It is one of the finer moments of 2008 and goes far to create its own space, where electronica kisses folk and soul in a new urban Americana."
- All Music
"... a tone that recalls a subdued Ben Harper, Aaron spins husky, soulful tales of love and life over sparsely built, echoing soundscapes, chilled reggae rhythms and pulsing, synthesized, moulded hip-hop beats."
- Exclaim! Canada
Highlands is an album of bittersweet cosmic campfire electronics and melancholic dreams. Song-writer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist, Damon Aaron, pens love songs and personal anecdotes that float over spacey hip hop beats and polished bass-lines. He cuts and pastes-in swirling strings and acoustic guitars that decorate his minimal sound-scapes and cast light on traditional folk and songwriting roots.
Aaron is an eclectic musician who equally embodies California craftsman, Renaissance man, and soul boy. His late-night collection of stories directs nods to Massive Attack, Flying Lotus, Nick Drake and Sam Cooke. However, Aaron?s musical path towards Highlands began a long ago, at home, with a unique mix of family influences. He learned his finger-picking style from a banjo-wielding Scots-Irish grandfather. He grew-up singing folk and bluegrass with his Mom. And his step-Dad, an-early 1980?s KROQ DJ, showed him how to program synthesizers. Such an eclectic mix of musical habits is evident in the opening tracks ?Matinee? and ?Fire? where dubby finger snaps and keyboard washes are building blocks for songs eventually heightened by walls of violins and breathy-flutes. Later, on ?Fall?, the acoustics take center stage but glitchy-clicks sneak in to add just a sniff of electronic atmospherics, while on ?Better? Aaron?s vocals emerge from a heavy sheen of synthesizer to ride a shuffling beat.
?It's idiosyncratic, sometimes dense, and takes some slightly unexpected turns. It's a record that probably takes a couple listens to take in,? explains Aaron. ?Like Tom Waits said, "it's an emotional weather report" with bluesy love songs, laments, and conversations.?
Helping Aaron edit together the right balance of organics and electronics are Los Angeles-based peers Miguel Atwood-Ferguson (arranger and session player to the likes of Dr. Dre, Rihanna, Gnarls Barkley, Blank Blue, Lifeforce Trio), percussionist Andres Renteria, and horn players Matt Demerritt and Michael McDaniel who have played alongside Macy Gray and Nate Morgan respectively.
Throughout the 1990?s, Aaron led soul and hip-hop bands in Los Angeles singing and MC-ing, and played guitar for others like the Breakestra, The Rebirth and seminal hip-hop artist Divine Styler. He's been nominated for a Gilles Peterson's Worldwide winners and LA Weekly music awards. He's also been featured on several influential compilations including: Rewind!3 (Ubiquity), Dublab Presents: Freeways (Emperor Norton), Impeach The Precedent (Kajmere) and Broadcasting (Sonar Kolectiv). Outside of solo work he has worked with groups like Build An Ark, Najite and the Olokun Prophecy, and has collaborated with critically acclaimed electronic artists like Telefon Tel Aviv and Barbara Morgenstern. Watch for shows this Fall to celebrate the release of the album. Just as Highlands is a hybrid of styles Aaron expects the live performances to balance live musicianship with electronics and visual elements.