Prism Cloud, like innumerable bands, started in a garage. But instead of plunking around on guitars haphazardly and figuring it out themselves, they pulled from experience with a different genre: classical music.
With this approach, Collin Pollitt and David Sanchez use their broadened perspective to manipulate a seemingly straightforward subset of garage music to make it powerful while retaining a guise of simplicity. What results is a record, Golden Star, that's easily enjoyed but was meticulously crafted with the precision of classically trained musicians.
Prism Cloud also pull from a bevy of indie-rock staples and pare the ideas down using this minimalist framework. Notes of Beach Fossils, Built to Spill and Wild Nothing are all present in their dreamy textures and ambient aesthetic.
The classical component, for Pollitt, speaks to the influence of composers like Beethoven on how he tackles songs. For Sanchez, learning how to traditionally write and understand music was huge, which he eventually applied to a new instrument when he started playing guitar.
Last month they put out Golden Star, a six-song EP that is also their first-ever release. "Pleaser" perfectly captures what the group is going for, a simple mix with reverb-laden guitar and a calm drumbeat. Bending notes ricochet around vocals and echo off the walls, capturing a similar atmosphere to The Moon & Antarctica-era Modest Mouse.
For Sanchez, a massive influence was Beach House, which is hugely evident. He and Pollitt were the only members for the large part of the band's existence, each alternating between bass or guitar. Whichever one brought an idea to the table would usually play guitar with the other supplementing. This variance of songwriting creates a similarly varied collection of tracks on the EP, but not so varied that it's loses a unified focus.
Sanchez approaches his songwriting with a visceral, stream-of-consciousness style. Often, he has to step away from over-thinking a song with his classical training and use unbridled emotion to guide a song. He'll write down collections of words weighing on his mind and form them into lyrics, or he'll just grab his guitar and play the first notes that capture his mood.
Pollitt, on the other hand, will start with a specific idea and branch out to capture the essence of a mood. On "Bogged Down," he aimed to capture the hysteria of cabin fever, of the claustrophobic nature of being trapped indoors. This palpable panic comes out in the incessant guitar strumming throughout the song. "I'll just play anything and treat it like whatever comes out is a sort of Freudian slip," he says. "Whatever comes out is purely subconscious."
Even something as commonplace as going somewhere to eat after practice has led to songs. On one such venture, Sanchez noticed a full moon was out that night and started conjuring up lyrics and ideas for a song. "The moon's alive for 28 days," he says, which is the basis for the EP's last track. Using this inspiration, Sanchez personifies the moon into a being with a limited lifespan and uses it as a vehicle to question mortality.
So far Prism Cloud has just scratched the surface of the Dallas scene, playing Dada and Double Wide, as well as J&J's and Macaroni Island in Denton. With the EP's release, they're looking to ride the momentum into booking more shows at more venues. The moon might only have 28 days to live, but Prism Cloud look like they've got many more ahead of them.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.