Find Us Where We’re Hiding is the debut full length from Germany’s PHOSPHENES, a collaboration between singer/lyricist Julee Bee and composer/producer Harry Starbuck. The two have, naturally, drafted a small supporting cast to help round out the playing and otherwise aid them in bringing their artistic vision to fruition. The duo first linked up for this project in 2017, but they first established their relationship a number of years ago when Bee interviewed Starbuck in her capacity as a music journalist for Starbuck’s then-current project. The two struck up a relationship based on their shared musical loves and it evolved, over time, into this eleven song collection. I think each of the tracks on this album reflects how the duo seems to have entered the studio with a firm idea for what they wanted this release to sound like and, ultimately accomplish for them. The results are well worth the time of any serious music lover.
Many of the songs on Find Us Where We’re Hiding have vocals and lyrics, but there is a smattering of instrumental tracks as well. They are uniformly good, but the strongest of those tracks is the song “People You Love Become Ghosts”, a dramatically assembled piece with both an onslaught of sound, never without sense or reason, and practically crystalline piano lines bobbing up in the mix as well. These fractured melodies we’re treated to courtesy of the aforementioned piano imbue a strong musical character into the song and pair up well with its much more chaotic and stormy second half.
The bulk of Find Us Where We’re Hiding, however, is devoted to colorful and dynamically arranged pieces centered on synths and keyboards. There’s a wide array of percussion and, to a lesser extent, guitar sounds working their way into the mix as well. Some of the finest songs of this ilk included with Find Us Where We’re Hiding are “Girls Trip”, one of the most commercially slanted efforts on the album, followed by “Heaven Looks Alright” and the later “Orange Vox”. The second of those three tunes, “Heaven Looks Alright”, is distinguished by the robust brio of Bee’s voice and the evocative vocal melody she adopts for the song. “Orange Vox” is another side of the duo’s musical character, arguably their equivalent of a conventional ballad, and unfolds for listeners in a compelling way.
A late instrumental, “Galaxy Jump”, nearly matches the earlier “People You Love Become Ghosts” thanks to some fierce guitar playing from Florian Walther and comes at a great place in the track listing. “Motions” comes off like an extended crescendo of sorts and doesn’t work as well as the rest of the album because it doesn’t seem to go anywhere on its own, but this is an instructive moment; certainly much of this album can stand on its own, but it’s geared to be appreciated on the whole rather than broken down into its individual parts. The conceptual trappings, as light as they are, never inhibit a listener’s potential enjoyment of this album however. PHOSPHENES’ Find Us Where We’re Hiding is a colorful work that leaves the ear and brain alike with much to take in and enjoy.
-review by Shannon Cowden