Blue Hawaii//Untogether “_”

by on March 14, 2013

Posted in: Album Review, Eclectic


For the past six months I’ve been really interested in Arbutus Records and all the artists on their label. Based in Montreal, this label developed its connections with the American music scene through Grimes—one of the first artists they signed. Since then many of the label’s bands have successfully made their way to big venues all throughout North America, including Doldrums, Mac DeMarco, and Majical Cloudz.

While scanning Arbutus Records’ website, I came across Blue Hawaii’s album Untogether, which was released March 6th of this year. My brother showed me their song “Blue Gowns” from their first album Blooming Summer (which I really liked) and was syked to hear their new sounds.

When I began listening to the album I was surprised by how raw their sounds were. In Blooming Summer, there were a lot of chords that melted together to create a flow of sounds a beats; however, “Untogether” seemed to appreciate the harmony derived from dissonance.

With their almost primitive beats, the duo adds a lot of depth to their tracks through subtle stylistic choices. In terms of vocals, you can definitely tell that Grimes has had a large impact on their style, especially when listening to their first song “Follow.” Raph carries her empyrean voice throughout each song through either melodic phrases or a loop. The latter style still manages to add continuity to a song while so much is going on instrumentally around it. Loops also build on each other to create the most beautiful cacophony (yes, I know that sounds like an oxymoron unless you’re into noise music, but if you don’t know what I mean listen to the album). A distinguishing factor between Blue Hawaii’s vocals and Grimes’ is Raph’s alto register, which really stands out. Raph’s voice is much fuller in comparison to the many falsetto sopranos (such as Grimes) that dominate the electric pop scene.

In terms of instrumentals, Agor straight up kicks ass.  You can tell he doesn’t just mess around with a guitar, synth, and drum machines to create something “interesting.” His stuff is far out. Many songs are split by his heavy, slow bass that dictates many of the key progressions and his ethereal, fast-pace electronics that when masterfully intertwined create the most depth to each track out of any other element. It’s almost as if the crescendo sneaks up on you, because it’s not until after a track finishes when you realize that at some unidentifiable point in time while listening to it you just experienced catharsis.

Agor and Raph establish their dynamic through rhythm. You seem to get the impression that every song maintains the same tempo, but if you listen to them individually you realize that they achieve the same tempo in either two ways. Either Agor juxtaposes a fast-pace bass with Raph’s fast-pace melody, or Agor’s slow-pace bass contrasts with Raph’s slow-pace melody. If you don’t know what I mean listen to “Sweet Tooth.” This song puts these two forms of dynamism side-by-side.

Untogether is pretty fresh. I think it says a lot about the direction in which the Montreal music scene is heading. The following image describes my fascination with this album:

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thanks for reading



  1. follow
  2. *try to be* (favorite track)
  3. in two
  4. in two ii
  5. sweet tooth
  6. sierra lift
  7. yours to keep
  8. daisy
  9. flammarion
  10. reaction ii
  11. the other day


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