On their Avia Gardner début, More Than Tongue Can Tell, Mitchell Akiyama and Jenna Robertson invited listeners into a world of sepia-toned melodies and delicate instrumentation. The Montreal group’s follow-up, recorded in the isolation of the Massachusetts countryside, leaves most of the Baroque frills and digital intervention behind. Mill Farm’s spare, lo-fi beauty reflects a process of withdrawal into a hidden room where instruments were the only furniture. In this, Mill Farm is as much ritual as music.
Mill Farm tells its stories with the eyes-closed throb of Animal Collective, the lyrical spider-webs of Joanna Newsom, the front-porch lilt of Akron/Family, and the acoustic unhinging of Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice. It pulses with the sound of acoustic instruments played with no one watching – guitar, harmonium, autoharp, instruments borrowed from a baby brother – with the thump and flutter of drum machines and computer mystery. Its lyrics walk down roads without sidewalks, climb cherry trees without low branches, and scribble letters that will never be sent. Mill Farm is the sound of two musicians leaving home. It is a letting go of in order to move closer. It is an invitation to come and see for yourself.