In October 2003, Rona “Tarsier” Rapadas came across instrumental-based Muted LP by Anticon producer Brendon “Alias” Whitney and immediately contacted him. Tarsier had recorded some of her own work as half of the Brooklyn-based electronic duo Healamonster & Tarsier, and she was hoping Alias would remix Muted using her vocals. She sent him some work, and he liked it so much that he put together a beat the very next day and e-mailed it to her. The two eventually came to see each other as kindred spirits in the vast sonic landscape. They exchanged music via e-mail for two years until finishing Brookland/Oaklyn, an ambitious project that, although it misses a few steps in coordinated harmony, is an impressive product of digital experimentation.
Interestingly, the artists weren’t living on their native coasts at the time of the collaboration. Tarsier, a native of Culver City, California, had moved to Brooklyn with Healamonster. Alias was wooed away from his Southern Maine roots into the Anticon circle in Oakland. But thousands of miles of separation did not deter what seems like hours of perfecting production and vocals via e-mail.
Tarsier’s dreamlike vocals match the ambience Alias exudes in his drum-heavy production. Brookland/Oaklyn finds her singing beautifully to the tune of rhythmic beats that never dull through ten tracks of drum machines, synthesizers and a chance strumming of the guitar. The album’s shining achievement, “Dr. C,” catches Alias playing guitar, well removed from his typical Anticon work. A mid-song entry from the decks keeps the song moving. Few moments find Alias & Tarsier as coordinated, but “Dr. C” reveals what they do well: combine talented production and dreamlike vocals to create an icy atmosphere.
Most of the tracks, especially “Cub,” “Anon” and “Plane That Draws a White Line,” demonstrate how well Alias & Tarsier substitute in-studio collaboration with musical prowess to blend the vocals and production. “Last Nail” is the one track on which Alias offers his vocals. His flow adds an appropriate reminder of the distance between Alias’s hip-hop background and Tarsier’s cinematic fascination — and a reminder of how many miles separated the two when this album was recorded.
Alias and Tarsier Web site (streaming audio)Anticon Web site (streaming audio)