Except that kid with the crown. Tania's taken his place, conducting Technicolor pop cuts that might as well be synced up to a short film of its own. Or at the very least, carefully sequenced into a mesmerizing album like Moon Sweet Moon —a parallel dimension that begins innocently enough (the echo chamber keys and buried shuffleboard beats of "The Beginning") but quickly turns bizarre and a bit, well, mad. "I like having the no-brainers up front," explains Via Tania, "And the darker, more psychedelic ones toward the end." So that's why "Dangerously" closes the curtain on Via Tania's second LP with slippery bass lines, subtle strings and a sudden speaker-kicking climax that breaks her spell just in time for you to start all over again.
And you will; you'll want to revisit every richly-woven chapter, from the snow globe soundtrack of "Wonder Stranger" and cosmic disco chords of "Our Wild Flight" to the layered loops of "Light Years," a murky waltz guided by melancholic melodies, gently-cranked gears and what may or may not be the haunted hands of an dearly-departed lover. "Via Tania came out of a need for personal space," says the singer/multi-instrumentalist, explaining her set pieces and scene changes. "Even when I was a teenager, I liked to process things at my own pace and write about things alone. In fact, I have a cassette from when I was 14 years old, and the songs on it would fit perfectly in my sets even now." They didn't back then, though.
You see, Tania and her older sister Kim spent most of their teen years developing the different shades of SPDFGH. Founded by the Bowers and a couple of friends at their all-girls school, the quartet explored everything from lightly-sweetened pop tunes to twisted takes on math-rock and hip-hop. They disbanded by the time Tania turned 21, but not before releasing a stack of singles and one genre-jumping album on Half a Cow, the label of former Lemonheads bassist Nic Dalton. "We all wrote and sang," she says, "so it was a little crazy.
Songs would sound folky in my room, but then we'd rock them out in the band." With Moon Sweet Moon, songs started out folky in Tania's room and expanded ever-so-slightly from there, as she reined in a revolving door of collaborators (including members of Tortoise and Shearwater) along with co-producer Craig Ross. A staple on the Austin music scene (Daniel Johnston, Spoon, Emmylou Harris), Ross met Tania at a Australian show and quickly agreed to help her wrap recording sessions that reached as far back as 2005. "I told him it was a patchwork of sorts, and he seemed to have no problem with that," explains Tania. "With Craig, there was a lot of letting go, and reshaping stuff that had been recorded for at least a year.
He had such new, fresh ears—a bigger idea of what the whole record should sound like." So did Tania. As alone as she often feels in Chicago and Sydney—splitting her time between two very different cities has obliterated her sense of what 'home' really means—the Tania of today isn't all that different than the teenager who used to escape into a world only she could truly understand. "I love new situations and experiences," says Tania, "taking the challenge of making a new space, meeting new people, writing new songs. You can look at things from many angles, and then you move on—you change again." www.viatania.com Read more on Last.fm.
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