HOWARD FEIBUSCH, the primary songwriter behind the Brooklyn quartet Howard, subverts the typical artistic process of absorbing, interpreting, and recreating experiences and environments with his band's forthcoming EP, Please Recycle—a sort of sequel to their 2015 debut full-length, Religion.
Please Recycle is made up entirely of sounds and tracks initially recorded for the band's first album. The EP isn't exactly a remix record—it's more of an exercise in creation through deconstruction, a dive inward before expanding outward. "Someone wanted to do a remix," Feibusch explains. "I got some of the stems from the album together [and] I started hearing them very differently. Hearing the sounds on their own excited me. Slowly what started as an experiment began to come to fruition," he recalls. "We walk around and there's just so much stuff... There's so much art and so much audio. What does it look like when we repurpose it?"
Howard's sound has always been mildly electronic; synthetic timbres and rhythms loop hypnotically, in service to largely acoustic guitar-based songwriting and Feibusch's Chris Martin-esque tenor.
"I started to work the songs as deeply as I could. To me it made a statement more than just the music," Feibusch says. "Glass," a track off the EP, is atmospheric and rooted, melodic and ambient, celestial and earthy. Feibusch's ghostly voice, simultaneously organic and processed, drifts by on a wandering breeze—you're reminded of Scottish electronic duo Boards of Canada.
Please Recycle is a crumpled, knotted, burbling, industrially miasmic reinterpretation of Feibusch's own creative process, that makes reductive yet expansive statements about our culture of excess and consumerism. If Religion sounded like the band's response to Radiohead's The Bends, the new EP is Howard's take on Kid A. Similarities to Radiohead's sonic experiments are very intentional; Feibusch cites the groundbreaking British group as an inspiration.
"They've taught me to think about arrangements differently," he says. "They're aware they have an audience that will listen to whatever they put out. I really revere how they've tried to push the boundaries on each of their albums, and try to push the boundaries of what their audience wants to hear."
Feibusch says that transposing the music to conventional instrumentation has shed light on which parts of the arrangement to focus on, boiling down fundamental building blocks that have been stacked, discarded, and rebuilt many times over. "Whenever you simplify something, you have to rethink, 'What are the core elements here?'" Feibusch says. "'How will this come across to the audience member in a straight-ahead way?'"
The Please Recycle EP began on a computer, with Feibusch working alone—now he and the rest of Howard are preparing to present this work in the context of a live band. "The way you think about melody and rhythm is quite different than what your hand would naturally create on a guitar or drum," Feibusch says. "Learning these parts on live instruments has been a lot of work and a lot of disappointment sometimes. It's exciting to see it come together."