It's a shame that Tiny Vipers will be stuck inside a club. The Seattle duo should be outdoors—perhaps somewhere like the Skidmore Bluffs around sundown—where an audience can sit, gaze up at drifting clouds, and free their toes to mingle with the unkempt grass as the soft, ghostly folk floats on by. "Around campfires used to be the only way I would play," says singer Jesy Fortino, whose voice blends Chan Marshall's sultry with Joanna Newsom's sprite. "Or little shows in my apartment. I'd have people over and play in my kitchen."
But now, after being picked up by Sub Pop, those intimate shows may be a thing of the past. The taste-making Seattle label just released Tiny Vipers' first proper album, Hands Across the Void. A lovelorn, ghostly wanderlust, the Tiny Vipers aesthetic is drawn from the natural environment. "I love, love, the Northwest," Fortino swoons. "Probably because I'm from Texas. When I moved here [to Seattle] it was so wonderful and green. I'm just totally enchanted by this place.
"We lived in San Antonio, and in Texas, you know, there's nothing. Here I was blown away by how much empty space there was—a different kind of empty space than desert."
Indeed, Tiny Vipers exist somewhere in that emptiness. In between the day and night sky, the real and surreal, between love and lust, the trees and the clouds. Accordingly, the arrangements on Hands are exceedingly sparse—slow, deliberately plucked acoustic guitar arpeggios are lightly colored by mellow suggestions of electric guitar, cello, and bass—usually only one at a time."
I'm a huge fan of really simple, really minimal music," Fortino says. "It's what I like in art. It's everything, even in the way I dress."
Free from clutter, Fortino's voice weaves between the breezy light and dark structures like a translucent curtain dancing over an open windowsill, rarely imposing, but diffusing and spreading a song's light evenly across the room. And maybe, if you close your eyes tight enough, you'll be able to see the sky, even if you're inside.