A Torrid Affair will Stay with You

The Profile of A Torrid Affair
by Dan Vierck
January 2013

In the spotlight practicing their religion

In the spotlight practicing their religion

Even though it might seem like A Torrid Affair is suddenly everywhere, fundraising for Girls Rock Camp, throwing glitter parties, and rounding out bills at every venue in town, Rocky and Annabelle have been crafting their sound for nearly three years. It’s an unlikely and surprisingly effective combination: Rocky has degrees in both music composition and guitar, while Annabelle has only ever daydreamt melodies and lyrics. The soundspace where they meet – documented on their soon forthcoming debut, Stardust – is a deftly managed menagerie of sounds lifted out of your most sepia-tinted dreams.

I met them at Mickey’s for the inside story and they were both very plain about their intentions: Annabelle wants the kind of fame that’ll warrant a Paul Simon duet, and Rocky wants to take to the stage backed by, essentially, a full orchestra. They know their goals are lofty. And they know it probably better than anyone, because their product is evidence to their dedication and effort. The album was supposed to be out a couple months ago, but because they’re doing everything – really, everything – themselves outside of their day jobs, they’re just now trudging out of the final mixing stage (stronger and smarter than when they began).

Stardust is not overrun by any one element of A Torrid Affair’s style. Pop songs with too much orchestration have a tendency to drown in their own lushness, but ATA’s songs are consistently percussive, rhythmic, and sharp. All manner of instruments fade in and out, but always under or around Rocky’s flay-fingered strummer guitar and Annabelle’s voice.

There’s something entrancing about her voice, like a cartoon spell wrapping itself around your head. The thing is – she’s not a trained singer. This is largely how her voice happens, and she lets it happen (to effect), and that’s the magic of it. Her voice dances between in and out of control just enough that you never really worry she’s going to lose it, but you know she could.

Rocky’s arrangements and production are the opposite. He’s managed, with his education, experience, and sheer enthusiasm, to bring out the essences of the instruments featured. The guitar never sounds tinny or dull, and the strings lilt, sear, wax, wane, and everything in between. His ear for rhythmic nuances and flowing but concrete song construction keep the disc from ever sounding redundant.

“54601” is an especially attractive song. The beat is plain and undeniable, and wouldn’t be anything to write about on its own, except the layers of sprightly plucked strings, tambourine, and looping violin over it create a tense musical situation that drives the song.

It is important that you hear, and if at all possible, see this band. And if you’re only going to listen, your laptop speakers might not do it justice. This music blooms best through headphones or a real stereo setup. ATA’s ambition and determination alone could set them apart from other bands, but they’re bringing something different to the musical table. They recommend liking them on Facebook for updates, etc., but they also have a Soundcloud page where you can hear some songs. In terms of shows, they will be playing Rökker Vodka’s Chef’s Table event at The Dragonfly Lounge, February 13th, which will also feature Patchwork Monkey and a vodka-infused menu.

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