High Places is an ambitious duo that fuses found sound collages with sunny pop melodies. It's a formula that triggers flashbacks of Brian Wilson recording Paul McCartney eating carrots during his famously decadent "Smile" sessions, but this band is anything but overblown. In the tradition of bands like Animal Collective, who love out-of-left-field sound pastiches as much as their battered "Smile" bootlegs, High Places writes melodies you'll remember -- using sounds you'll have a heck of a time recognizing. On its self-titled debut, band members Mary Pearson and Rob Barber played things such as wood blocks, plastic bags and mixing bowls.
When the duo plays Soundlab (110 Pearl St.) at 9 p.m. Wednesday, surrounded by their samplers, effects pedals and triggered drum pads, Brian Wilson's crazed kitchen-sink approach will get an intriguing 21st century makeover.
>How do you guys pull off your stuff on stage?
Rob: That's an ongoing thing we work on. Most of the sounds we create are made up of acoustic sounds that are treated or manipulated. So live, because there are only two of us, we have to rely a lot on samples and backing tracks, looping and delay and all that stuff.
>Are you going for a seamless fusion of pop and avant garde?
Mary: I don't know if it's what we're going for. Originally, we were thinking that there wouldn't really be any hooks to our songs, there'd be just a lot more sonic collages. But we were thinking that everyone likes a good pop melody, a song you can sing in the shower.
>Does your penchant for found sounds keep things fresh?
Rob: Other bands have definitely done it before. Every time you make a new song, it's a little bit more fresh, because you're not using the same guitar sound, same effect pedal, same whatever. If you can get people on board using sounds that aren't necessarily easy to recognize, that hopefully gives you an advantage.
>Your lyrics are the opposite of the music -- simple and direct.
Mary: That's always how I've written. My sister's a writer, and I've always had an inferiority complex about that. I have had a little bit of a hard time with poetry; I think there's way too many descriptive words, they gross me out. I don't know if it's intentional or it's just what my brain is capable of.
>Is there a philosophy behind the band name?
Mary: It was just something that Rob had listed on the Internet as an influence, and we thought it was the perfect title for what the two of us do when we work together.
>Geographically high places are an influence?
Rob: Yeah. If I'm in a weird mood, I like going somewhere where I can see far and I have a better perspective on the environment around me. Right now, we're sitting on a hill.
-- Joe Sweeney, Special to The News