One of the most beguiling and beautiful songs of this young year is a tune called “Country” by Porches, the recording name of New York-based musician Aaron Maine.
Belying its bucolic moniker, the recording is a minimal electronic masterpiece, a futuristic vision of love that somehow sounds like a dust bowl folk song. It is just the latest example of Maine’s mastery when it comes to combining the organic with the synthetic.
“Whenever I’m creating songs, I try to find that juxtaposition,” says Maine, who plays March 5-6 at the Chapel in The City. “I think it adds more depth when the lyrical content does not quite match the sound.”
Maine’s lyrics are filled with references to the natural world — air and water are recurring themes — but his sonic templates favor mechanical, alien elements. His latest album “The House” is another collection of icy electronica songs that nonetheless illicit real emotions, thanks to Maine’s candid storytelling.
“Country,” is emblematic of that approach. Clocking in at under two minutes, it is airy and ethereal, a song regaled by a lovesick troubadour who wields a synthesizer instead of an acoustic guitar. Maine said he wrote the song while crossing the Williamsburg Bridge, reeling from love after hanging out with the girl who is now his significant other.
“I was on cloud nine,” says Maine. “As soon as I got home I started playing the melody on my acoustic guitar. It just came out really quickly. I really like how it turned out.”
While “The House” contains many of the same features as its predecessor, the 2016 breakout album “Pool,” this new release is more nuanced and exploratory. Fewer songs fit the verse-chorus-verse format and Maine opted to include shorter, less linear tunes such as “Understanding” and “Swimmer,” which both last a minute or less.
He also enlisted the help of fellow musicians such as (Sandy) Alex G, Dev Hynes (who contributed vocals on “Country”) and Kaya Wilkins, who sang lead vocals on “Åkeren,” a track recorded entirely in Swedish (another first for Porches.) The result is a compelling mix of ruminative electronic ballads, dance-y numbers and irregularly-structured tunes with disarming pop sensibilities.
Maine views “The House” as a natural successor to Pool — the product of someone trying to push his comfort level and explore new ideas.
“I’m just trying to grow as an artist — to challenge myself and evolve,” says Maine. “I’m excited about this album; I’m excited about this next chapter.”