Corbu is a lucid dream you never want to wake up from. A memory of faded colors. Warm light behind a neon sculpture. The green hue of the sky before an afternoon storm. A game of hide and seek. The thoughts you have that don’t make sense, moments before you fall asleep. All of these seemingly mundane yet beautifully ordinary everyday experiences exist inside the universe that is Corbu and their debut LP, Crayon Soul, due for release this Spring.
At times hazy and psychedelic, and at others glittering and electronic, Crayon Soul was mixed by Dave Fridmann (Neon Indian, The Flaming Lips, Tame Impala) and is littered with rising choruses that wash in and out over building bass lines like moving tides. The LP is the staggering follow up from two earlier EPs, We are Sound (2014), and Everything You Imagine is Real (2015) which drew attention from BBC Radio One’s Zane Lowe, garnered a remix request from Jesse Ware, and hype from the likes of NYLON, Stereogum, The Guardian, NME and more.
Fronted by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Graves, accompanied by his creative partner Amanda, drummer Todd Hoellerman, and a rotating cast of musicians for a live experience, Corbu began when Jonathan started having lucid dreams at age 12. That, and when he heard Sgt. Pepper’s from the backseat of his parents car. Together, Jonathan and Amanda create an all encompassing synesthetic experience - music to transport you somewhere else.
Crayon Soul is just that- a wild, internal journey through the darkest reaches of space and the vivid colors of a futuristic rebirth. “It’s a journey through a series of “gates”, or events that you pass through with the narrator,” muses Graves of the album. “At each event, you change and shift into a new part of the story.”
With each track on the record, the listener is one step closer to the narrator. Starting off with the transient and instrumental sounds of Sirens and easing into the funky bass lines of Polygon Forest and Neon Hallway, Corbu guides us through a spiral galaxy of disjointed pop songs. As the album progresses into tracks like Better Better Off and Battles, there’s a more guitar driven aesthetic to the sound of Crayon Soul, and eventually we catch up to the narrator with the perfectly placed blissful sounds of We Are Sound. It’s like you’ve arrived home after your journey, before the epilogue of Dark Wave - an acoustic, hand- clapped ladened track with an impossibly infectious riff.
"There's something in there about the ability to see the 'colors and lines between the dots' - the unseen connections between things," explains Jonathan. "Everyone has it when they're little. We have a tendency to become more closed off and lose that ability over time... like a superpower that wears off. I found myself writing about the struggle to remain vulnerable, to keep that way of seeing things." Crayon Soul is an eye-opening trip - the band has even put together an extensive coloring book for listeners to experience while they listen, and create the artwork for themselves.
A collection of fragmented pop songs, coated in a layer of audio aesthetics that crackle and glow like the movie Tron in 1982, Crayon Soul is a dream that Corbu are helping you piece back together, bit by bit.