Our brains’ susceptibility to sensory overload creates experiences both wonderful and destructive. Every day our noses are bombarded by bakeries and perfumes, eyes are burnt by neon lights and thirty second ads, and taste buds are flooded by the sweet and fatty foods our bodies crave. Each of these experiences creates a spark of pleasure within us that builds until joy or need takes hold entirely.
Our ancestry that left us with single-column spinal support and vestigial organs also imparted a satisfaction-seeking brain. Within our evolved society, every sense has its own dedicated champion of satisfaction. Sight has physical beauty, taste has intricately prepared food, touch has physical companionship, smell has perfume and hearing has music.
The slow evolution of music through history has brought us hundreds of thousands of musical acts and a twisting mass of genres and subgenres. Despite endless attempts to categorize every new wave of music, there are still genre-bending acts like Shimmertraps that deliver hard-hitting melodies packaged with dream-state synths and soothing bass.
The first time I saw Shimmertraps perform live, I sat on the wooden floor of the Alternative Library as they assembled their miniature mass of synths and effect pedals. I spotted an OP-1, one of the synths of my dreams, and quickly grew excited for what lay in store. The final touch was the addition of a few colorful mood lights. Suddenly I was sure that Shimmertraps were going to be unlike any local band I had seen.
Musical performances enliven all senses. You feel the bass, you smell the sweat, you watch the band and you hear the music. Every performer, once comfortable with their piece, expands their focus beyond musical expertise and attempts to overload every sense. As an artist, performance is usually, hopefully, fueled by an internal passion driven by a love for the art and music; something clearly present in Shimmertraps’ performances. The goal of mastering the art of performance is to transfer this passion and energy to the audience – so when they leave the show, they leave with what they can only describe as a “feeling,” an intense emotional response to the stimulation their mind and body just received.
Every band aims for this, but it’s a lofty goal and often folly to try to master. With Shimmertraps, smells bleed through into taste, touch bleeds into auditory sensations, all the senses combine and a sonic soundscape is created where each aspect of human feeling can be absorbed by turning the entire act of performing their music into one large art piece.
Shimmertraps’ humble origins as a two piece with Zack on drums and Kyle Menne on bass, required them to record their songs as they wrote them. Since their complex synth/orchestral dreams weren’t achievable by just two, the majority of the pieces written by Zack and Kyle were written with the hope that in the future they would figure out how to perform them live. This helped them craft the music they wanted from day one.
After a lengthy process of testing out new band members, Zack and Kyle were joined by Ian MacPhee, Brodie Cole and Justin Klipping. Together the five band members have perfected and elaborated on the groups’ original sound and bring that sound to the stage.
Very few bands can combine five independent artistic talents cohesively, but Shimmertraps have been able to take a collection of skills and assemble them into audio-visual masterpieces that grab listeners slowly and persuasively. Each inter-song transition at the Alternative Library show felt smooth and gentle because they had created a performance that transcended each individual song and left the air humming with residual good vibes. They approach music holistically and after watching them you will see all of the Bellingham music scene in a different light.
Shimmertraps’ excellence is thanks to individual dedication. Each member brings a unique skillset to the table. Playing off this allows them to evolve each new song into something great. Four of the five members all live under one roof where they are allowed a permanent music set up, allowing them to make waves while being one of the newer bands on the scene.
Their Facebook page and album covers are adorned by art the band created themselves. This extension of their artistic ability is a perfect example of their versatility as artists. It adds to their aura of talent and refined professionalism. Check their Facebook for upcoming shows and their Bandcamp for the awesome music they’ve put out thus far.