Sandy is a Brooklyn-based trio comprised of Samantha Pathe (synths/vocals), brother Stephen Pathe (drum machines/samples), and Jeff Carter (synths/vocals). Although they previously ran in some of the same musical circles in Philadelphia and New Jersey, their collaboration arose from the devastation wrecked by Hurricane Sandy throughout the Jersey Shore in 2012. After the storm destroyed the house Jeff was living in and left him stranded, Stephen offered Jeff a room in his Manasquan, NJ house. Under the same roof, under unfortunate circumstances, the pair naturally started playing music together. They soon brought in Stephen’s sister Samantha to play and write music with them and Sandy – the band – was born.
After moving to New York together, Sandy began writing and recording in earnest, which culminated in their debut, self-titled cassette on Night People Records in 2014. Label head Shawn Reed described the music as “soulful atmospheric minimalist synth pop that is contemporary in its approach and comes with a depth rare for a band that is so new.” Two years later, the French label Monopsone released the EP on CD with two additional tracks. In the time since, Sandy has focused on meticulously writing and recording new songs, while preparing for and playing a handful of shows throughout New York City. Unlike many laptop-heavy, electronic acts, Sandy aims for as much musicianship as possible with as little automation as possible in their live setup. Hardware always prevails over computers.
Traces is a work of duality. The band’s layered synths and beats build a richly woven tapestry of seemingly disparate and opposing forces that forge new ground in electronic music. The songs are somehow both ambient and anthemic. And yet, they are anthems with restraint, always pulling back just before entirely breaking through the carefully composed tension. The lyrics are both mournful and hopeful, a binary that is embodied in the music itself.
Traces combines the fractured, glitchy feel of Low’s newest work with the downtempo ambience of Boards of Canada, while also recalling the feel-good melodies of 80s darkwave. Although each track is heavy on atmosphere and texture, the melodies push through and transform in unexpected ways, with the band never abandoning its commitment to writing songs. Dreamy, overlapping synth parts wash over you while the songs take twists and turns that command your attention and get your foot tapping, if not your body moving. Specters and spirits abound, as drums appear and later disappear out of nowhere like an apparition, and haunting synth lines sound like they’ve been ripped out of a score to an eerie sci-fi film of your imagination. By the time the final track winds down from its soaring climax, you feel like you’ve experienced something – something cohesive and whole, carefully built within the fabric of these four songs, as if Sandy has told the story they wanted to tell in the amount of time it took to tell it…