Listening to ii nub's "Gradients" feels like eavesdropping on someone else's dream. The music is both easy to grasp and richly layered with subtle use of guitar and drum loops, field recordings, synths, and electronic beats.
"We try to make music that transports you, that lets your imagination take you where it wants to," says Sean Carroll.
Carroll and Luis Fraire formed ii nub (that's pronounced "eye" "eye" nub, rhymes with rub) about three years ago when their other band, Pandas, went on hiatus.
The duo took a monthly gig at a music club in Worcester, which prompted Carroll and Fraire to start crafting new material.
"We just started playing with ideas," Carroll says. "If we found a guitar loop or a synth line that we liked, we'd keep it and build on that."
Carroll and Fraire also kept the visual element that was part of the Pandas' shows in their work as ii nub.
When ii nub performs Sunday at Lily Pad in Cambridge, impressionist videos created for the 15 tracks on "Gradients" will be on display as Carroll tends to his baritone guitar and its effects and Fraire controls the keys and triggers the loops and samples.
"Being an instrumental band with a cinematic feel, we just thought it was important to have the videos be part of the live show," Fraire says.
The CD "Gradients" likewise links visuals to sound, as the cover features 15 snapshots that correspond to each track, though whatever meaning ii nub attaches to each pairing is more cryptic than literal.
The album has three distinct sections, each one tied up by a composition titled "Knots." Each of the "Knots" is identical in length and bears the same melody, though each is presented with different instrumentation or sonic timbre. Carroll says he got the triptych idea from Andy Warhol portraits.
"I saw three identical pictures of Mao Tse-Tung, though each was done with a different color," Carroll says.
Even though the music has an ethereal quality to it, the mood and structure are held together by design. Fraire and Carroll will play "Gradients" in its entirety, careful to include all of its layers, even when a songs pull together 20 or 30 individual tracks.
"We're presenting it as a whole original composition," Fraire says, adding that with ii nub he and Carroll have found a way to bridge the experimental with the accessible. "We keep it not too demanding. It's a pleasant listening experience and certainly a little more focused than things we've done before."
ii nub is performing at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 23, at Lily Pad, 1353 Cambridge St., Cambridge. The show begins at 7 p.m. Here is a recently completed video for the "Gradients" song "Wrong #"
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