If you go
What: Soft Metals
When: 9 p.m. Friday
Where: Larimer Lounge, 27121 Larimer St., Denver, 303-291-1007
Cost: $10-$12

Patricia Hall and Ian Hicks met a few years ago when Hall hired Hicks to DJ a party in Portland. It's a simple enough origin story, but it's important in understanding the kind of band the pair formed afterward.

Not long after the initial meeting, Hicks moved from San Francisco to Portland, where he and Hall became friends. They bonded over a mutual love for electronic music -- particularly analog synths -- and Hicks started inviting Hall over to hear the music he was working on.

Now, they're living in Los Angeles, and they're in an EP and two LPs deep as the Soft Metals, making a name for themselves with ominous, beat-driven electronics and Hall's penetrating voice. Their July 16 release, Lenses, was much like their previous work in that the duo controlled almost every aspect of it.

"We wrote and recorded everything ourselves at home and we did the mixing ourselves," Hall said. "It's very much hands on work for us."

There are differences, though, and signs of growth.


They brought in outside help this time, from a Keith McIvor, a friend Hicks met while attending his DJ nights at Optimo in Glasgow. He contributed "a little bit of stuff" to "No Turning Back," "Lenses" and "In the Air," which works with Soft Metals vision to make Lenses more danceable.

"We wanted to make the songs more fun and daceable for people at shows. We were finding that when we played our older stuff, it didnt inspire much movement," Hall said. "It was something we entered into the writing process with. We kind of found that it was not quite as danceable as we hoped, but we still really liked the songs. I feel like it was a natrual progression for us. We still emplyed the same techniques and used pretty much the same equipment."

A lot of those techniques rely on drum machines, and 808s in particular. Part of that comes from Hall's past as a DJ, and part of it comes from Hicks collecting gear for most of his life.

"All our songs are really beat driven. They all start out with the 808 kick. Setting your pace to a BPM is a real DJ idea," Hall said. "When I first started hanging out with him, he had all these songs that he made on his own and the idea was that I'd add vocals. Then we started jamming togther and I fell in love with it."

The writing and recording process seems to go by a "go with the flow" philosophy. Lenses' "In the Air," for example, was 20 minutes long before they went back and whittled it down. The songs just comes out that way.

"Playing around with the synths and seeing what comes out -- you get a vibe off of it and you get a meaning," Hall said. "It's kind of a free association."

The final product isn't so much rambling thoughts as tightly edited ideas, though, and even if the music doesn't always inspire a dance party, Soft Metals have something worth catching live. Do it at the Larimer Lounge this Friday the Larimer Lounge.