Windy & Carl
It's been super hot outside this week because it is summer time. I've been using Windy & Carl as music to fall asleep to on these hot nights. Their blissed out ambient guitar drones are magical and send you off to slumberland perfectly. I've woken up feeling very well rested each morning. I'm not dismissing this band as only music to put you to sleep, but illustrating how good of a job they do. They even endorse the use of their music as a soundtrack for afternoon naps, so I think sleep is one intended purpose of their songs.
Windy & Carl is the husband and wife duo of Carl Hultgren and Windy Weber. Their sound is created from guitars run through massive amounts of delay and reverb. The songs are ambient soundscapes that don't sound much like normal guitars and use the instruments to create the sonic idea of a space over more traditional songwritting approaches. They use both guitars and basses, along with occasional keyboards. The songs tend to be longer in length, sometimes approaching the twenty minute mark. They explore a wide range of atmospheres in their songs from warmer tones to the ocean depths to cold tundras. The music fits in with concept of a soundtrack for an imaginary movie.
The band is primarily instrumental, although Windy does sing on some of the songs. Her voice is often buried in layers of reverb and delay as well. This gives a very dreamy quality to the vocals since you can hear a singer, but not necessarily make out what is being sung. I'm a big fan of keeping the vocals down in the mix or treating them like another instrument with good effects added, not bad effects such as Auto-Tune. It's interesting how people who aren't used to this approach are confused by it or want amazing vocal talent, like on American Idol. In all fairness, I'm confused with how mainstream pop music puts everything together. That stuff doesn't sound right at all to me. I'm a firm believer in Dave Berman's sentiment that "all my favorite singers couldn't sing."
They formed in 1991 and released their first recordings on their own Blueflea label. A few labels have helped them over the years, including Ba Da Bing and Icon Records. Chicago's Kranky Records released Depths in 1997 and they have stuck with them ever since. This is where they should be considering that Kranky was started with the purpose of putting out the first Labradford album of experimental ambient guitar songs and Windy & Carl fit in exactly with that aesthetic.
Windy and Carl also run Stormy Records in Dearborn, Michigan.
For more info:
Kranky Records band page
Brainwashed band site