To call them multi-instrumentalists might be a little overdone. The kids in Freelance Whales are really just collectors, at heart. They don’t really fancy buffalo nickels or Victorian furniture, but over the past two years, they’ve been collecting instruments, ghost stories, and dream-logs. Somehow, from this strange compost heap of little sounds and quiet thoughts, songs started to rise up like steam from the ground.
The first performance of these songs took place in January of 2009, in Staten Island’s abandoned farm colony, a dilapidated geriatric ward, in one of New York’s lesser visited boroughs. A seemingly never-ending jigsaw of small rooms, the farm colony ate them whole and threatened to never regurgitate them. And even though the onlookers were only spiritual presences, the group was still palpably nervous and visibly cold. After a bit of singing, strumming and stomping asbestos, they realized that they’d found a good crowd. They heard a bit of clapping from an adjacent room, also some laughing, but not a single soul asked about their record.
Weathervanes, the groups debut LP, finished tracking just a few nights earlier. Swirling with organic and synthetic textures, interlocking rhythmic patterns, and light harmonic vocals, the record works to tell a simple, pre-adolescent love story: a young male falls in love with the spectral young femme who haunts his childhood home. He chases her in his dreams but finds her to be mostly elusive. He imagines her alive, and wonders if someday he’ll take on her responsibilities of ghosting, or if maybe he’ll join her, elsewhere.
Since their brief residency at the Farm Colony, Freelance Whales have taken to city streets, subway platforms, and stages with their swirling nostalgia. Many people who found them playing in those public spaces, managed to forget what train they were supposed to take; some of them forgot what language they originally spoke. And so, after playing in New York City, almost exclusively, for about a year, they embarked on their first tour of the United States, and Canada. They saw buffalos posted on hilltops, armies of windmills, and lots of lovely people who let the music run their blood in reverse.