Aron D’Alesio is releasing his self-titled debut LP with the premiere of the album’s first single “Diamond Ring” on Creator Class. The track exemplifies the album’s studied bedroom pop, showcasing D’Alesio’s ear for arrangement and the subtle textures of his production, as the track builds from a simple vocal line accompanied by a lone guitar into an orchestral swirl of interlaced melodies imagined in D’Alesio’s late night sessions in his basement studio. Aron D’Alesio will be released on August 25th on Paper Bag Records.
The video “Diamond Ring” was directed by the award-winning Justin Singer, who has previously made videos for Harrison and Chastity. That is comprised of some of the first footage shot on Canon’s new C700 camera, and in a beautifully shot 4 minutes captures a small town resident’s experience of ex-urban isolation in the bleak winter months, in an emotionally poignant performance from the videos lead, the actor Andre Johnson, which is perfectly mirrored by the wistful tone of the song.
In a basement under a commercial development in downtown Hamilton, Ontario Aron D’Alesio set to work each night. Removed from distractions and almost invariably alone he would settle in, focusing on minute details as he tinkered, intent on managing each aspect of performance and tone as he meticulously fit the interlocking layers of his arrangements together piece by piece. Despite working as a musician – writing, recording and touring with the band Young Rival since he was barely out of high school – it was the first time D’Alesio had explored music making outside of a collaborative context, and counter-intuitively, working in isolation in a windowless room at a time when most of the world is asleep had a way of dissipating what had been a mounting sense of alienation that had become a byproduct of his creative work.
The cyclical nature of being in a band – the distance between writing something, recording it, and its eventual release – was at odds with D’Alesio’s inclination to be constantly engaged with his creative pursuits, and it was this relentless creative energy that drew him to his makeshift basement studio night after night. Here he developed what would become his self-titled debut LP, a collection of ethereal, imaginative, self-contained songs perhaps best described as bedroom pop, despite their basement origins.
“The way music works in the context of a band feels really slow, and there’s a sort of process of alienation from what you’re making that happens in that context,” D’Alesio says. “I was feeling increasingly frustrated and unfulfilled by it, but this project was immediately different. I’d go into the studio every night and I wouldn’t walk away until it was done. Normally I’d leave as the sun was coming up, or sometimes I’d just sleep there. I guess I could have tried to figure out something more convenient, but I’m a frugal bastard, and I quite quickly found that between 2 and 6 in the morning was my most productive time. I’d just get going and it was nice to be free from anything that would take me out of it.”
That the record was made in bouts of intense focus is evident in the knotty density, and unique sonic direction of its 13 tracks. Tones and ideas drift in and out of the songs, and there’s an almost eerie patience in evidence in the way the arrangements are constructed, often moving from a crystalline minimalism into heady maximalism and back in a short span. What appears to be a stripped down, one voice and guitar arrangement gradually slides away to reveal a warped, Beach Boys-esque vocal harmony, as on lead single “Diamond Ring,” or on “Where You Going To,” a loose Buddy Holly-inspired stomp bursts without warning into an impenetrable thicket of inter-laced guitar leads.
Making the album was a process of discovery for D’Alesio, as he taught himself to record as he went, spending entire nights recording drum parts hit by hit, so as to allow himself as much control over their tone and timbre as possible, and recording and re-recording each element of the arrangements in the hopes of finding the sounds that would best suit the songs.