Take Berlin: Lionize

Take Berlin are based in both Brooklyn and Berlin (pardon the alliteration), and have made it their goal to build a bridge across the Atlantic using the histories and cultural influences of the borough and city. Recorded on an aged tape deck rescued from the snow by guitarist and vocalist Jesse Barnes, Lionize covers topics ranging from crossing the Berlin Wall to cats living on metropolitan rooftops.

The EP begins with “Vermona,” the aforementioned track about a mother escaping East Germany and leaving her daughter behind. The story told by Sleigh Bells backup vocalist Yvonne Ambrée is heart wrenching, but laid over acoustic guitar and Wurlitzer piano, there is a reminiscent quality that drags the listener on an early emotional roller coaster. “Kentucky” describes the life of a wily stray feline, but has a disconcerting streak of anxiousness in it. The final track, “Stranger,” contains some of the richest instrumentation on the record, with keys and horns crying out in unison, as though they are searching for the same companionship the song ponders a lack of.

Chance, defined by the duo as “the occurrence and development of events in the absence of any obvious design,” has become their motto of sorts. After finding a tape deck in the snow and meeting each other accidentally multiple times in short succession, the randomness of life has become a topic of study for the two musicians. They have created a music project based on peering into a set of events through the perspective offered by living in the two distinct locations. Lionize is a debut EP built to reflect the complications that arise from trying to contemplate the unexplainable, and it does so with a soft but solid beauty.

In A Word: Philosophical