Music that combines the acoustic and the electronic offers a lot of potential enticements (as well as some potential pitfalls) but one of the nice things it can do is create a sonic environment at once gentle and assertive. Which is hard for either the purely acoustic or the purely electronic to do on their own, and which is pretty much what “Pattern Pieces” has going here, aided handsomely by singer Simone White’s intimate whisper of a voice and some breezy finger picking.
But the big “acoustic” secret here—acoustic in quotes because I may not even be right about this—is the central role played by percussion that sounds very organic and natural. Lord knows that technology has long since transcended my capacity to tease apart electronic from three-dimensional beats, but the larger point is the nature of the sound achieved. Central to the percussive heartbeat in “Pattern Pieces” are sounds that feel very close to the ear and belly in the way that drumming in actual physical space feels.
The other thing this song does is cycle us adroitly through a series of shifting electronic sounds. Towards the beginning, with the organic (maybe) drumming and natural vocals, the electronics we hear are generally subtle background gestures, the type of which come a bit more to the fore in the instrumental break at 1:00. Note how these are quickly followed by the entrance of a pure acoustic guitar, to keep the electro-acoustic balance flowing. A similar break at 1:50, meanwhile, leads to a more diffuse vocal section than previously which in turn migrates us to a new sonic palette (beginning at 2:30) featuring heavier electronic sounds and processed vocals. This heavier section registers as both a definitive shift and a natural-seeming progression, especially given how easily, a minute later, we are delivered back to the earlier vibe.
The Los Angeles-based Dive Index is less a band than a self-described “collaborative project”; the mastermind is songwriter/producer Will Thomas, who earlier in the millennium was recording electronic music as Plumbline. The first Dive Index album emerged in 2007. “Pattern Pieces” is from Lost in the Pressure, the third Dive Index release, out this week on Neutral Music.
(If you go to the SoundCloud page you can download this file in higher-quality .wav format.)