In The Wilderness
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Born in the claustrophobic chaos of Brooklyn, NY, Stranger Cat — an electronic pop project from Cat Martino and co-producer/multi-instrumentalist Sven Britt —came to be through a dark time and a respite in the wilderness, both of which ultimately led to a personal and musical rebirth. Stranger Cat developed out of a congenital collaborative partnership between Martino and Britt, resulting in their debut full-length In The Wilderness.
If you’ve been paying attention to independent music over the past several years, you have almost certainly heard Cat Martino’s voice. The Brooklyn native was Sufjan Stevens’ right hand woman for Age of Adz and All Delighted People albums and world tours, recorded and toured with Sharon Van Etten circa Epic, sang on Son Lux’s Lanterns, and appeared with The Shins on Saturday Night Live. She has also opened tours for Marissa Nadler, Indians, Rufus Wainwright, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Mark Gardener (of Ride), Gardens and Villa and more.
The songs maintain an unmistakably poppy sensibility throughout the record, but there’s a dark personal tale lurking beneath the polish. In the summer of 2012, a breakup with her longtime boyfriend/co-producer – coupled with a flare-up of a once-healed neuromuscular illness – left her feeling dejected and utterly isolated, and she fell into a deep depression. In need of a break from the ever-present tension of New York City, Cat retreated to the Sierra Foothills to record the songs that would become In The Wilderness.
When she returned to New York, Cat brought some of her friends into the studio – as a result, In The Wilderness features guest appearances from Sufjan Stevens, Christopher Powell (Man Man), Darby Cicci (The Antlers) and Reggie Pace (Bon Iver), among others.
Instead of playing into the platitude of the bleary-eyed breakup piece, Into The Wilderness subverts that notion by blending shimmering synths, sparse and skittering beats, lush vocal loops and omnichord with Cat’s strikingly soulful vocals. It would be tempting to file the record under “ethereal pop” on first pass, but when factoring in the trip-hop beats, blaring trombones and piano runs, categorization gets a bit more complicated.