Dark and brooding with its occasional splashes of colour, Dark Rooms easily stands out from the crowd of modern day electronic pop bands.
The band emerged over the course of frontman Daniel Hart’s tour to promote his solo album The Orientalist in 2011. Though critically acclaimed, The Orientalist didn’t attract much attention worldwide. But it is clear that the tour was by no means a waste of time for the musicians. When the tour ended, the band simply kept going. Only 2 years later, a new album was released under the name Dark Rooms.
Nowadays Hart is probably best known as a film composer, having composed the score for an impressive amount of American indies such as Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and Comet. Having played the violin from the age of 3, he has also worked as a touring instrumentalist alongside many musicians from his native Texas and musical legends such as Radiohead. He has been busy, to say the least, exploring a range of sounds between classical to pop.
Now, together with band members Casey Trela, Bobak Lotfipour, and Rachel Ballard, a sound has emerged that is very unlike any of Hart’s previous work. Live instruments have made way for electronics and samples. As the band name might suggest, the music has a dark tint to it, yet it occasionally breaks out into either loud exclamations (such as in the song “Olga Kurylenko“) or even quite danceable electronic beats (like in “Never Sleep Again“).
Hart’s vocals have changed too and he has proven to be an impressive counter tenor. His piercing falsetto in Dark Rooms has remnants of Thom Yorke in it, but in combination with the electronic beats and occasional dissonant chords the sound is perhaps best compared to Sufjan Stevens’ 2010 The Age of Adz, albeit a more accessible version. Despite not having strived for Sufjan Steven’s level of absolute weirdness, the sound of Dark Rooms is instantly recognisable as their own. In my book, it makes them stand head and shoulders above many contemporary up-and-coming electronic pop bands.
Having toured the US in September this year, the band has returned home to further develop their new material. They’d better tour Europe some time soon too. I’m getting impatient.