Portland-based Calisse's debut album Farewell Black Sheep is weird, absorbing, spellbinding, and beautiful. The flagship release for new label Almabrain Records, which comes out on April 2016, gloriously unveils arcane lyrical scripture within the apocalyptic sounds of James Collette and Morganfield Riley. At any moment, the songs are likely to merge vintage Southern Californian garage-pop, a dash of freakbeat, Texas lysergic threnody, and carefully woven vocals from a government-censored but counter culture-inspiring early 70s rock opera.
Huge canvas, swirling epics like "Amberwood Drive," "Omnibrain," and "Sometimes You Can't Use Names" ride and roil on frantic drum beats in a dream life describing devils and resurrection, merging into the soft bed of a psychedelic brass band. At any point, a skronk blast might signal the apex of an evening spent inside the coolest cult in town, because they have the tightest, trippiest house band at any commune. Calisse is able to swing like mages and rock like docked mage wharf-rats, beckoning listeners into an odyssey welcoming all other misunderstood seekers.
Calisse began when James Collette and Morganfield Riley were introduced by a filmmaker friend and played the next Halloween. The two enlisted likeminded pals to cover Neutral Milk Hotel's "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" in loving tribute. That went so well that when Collette decided to record a solo project, Morganfield asked if he could produce one of the songs. The work inevitably expanded into more tracks and finally a full-length album under the moniker they had hastily chosen for their initial holiday show. Collette and Riley have differing musical aesthetics but share the same ambition in getting the world to hear their music.
Calisse includes Karen Moore (vocals, keyboards), Rob Iggulden (drums), Tim Riva (bass) and Chelsea Appel (vocals), although Tim Riva has recently been replaced by Kevin Hoffman. The album also became a sound collaboration with Jason Driver of Fur Vault PDX. The owner/engineer/producer moved to Portland after several years of working in a Los Angeles studio, drawn to Portland's diverse and flourishing musical scene. At this time, the album was crushed out in an inspiration-drenched 48 hours, but finessed with months of devoted mixing and mastering. Meeting producer "J.D." turned out to be more instrumental to the band than just his contributions at the mixing board; he was so drawn to the album and the work with Calisse that he asked to sign the band to his label, Almabrain.
Not a group to stop and smell the roses, Calisse has also begun work on its second LP. The band members would love to have you on board this party as well, and the welcoming vastness and expanse of their music wills it to be so on Farewell Black Sheep. Taste and see. [+]