A medley of “eyelid movies”

Even behind closed eyes, the strobe light flashes in time, pulsating to the beat-driven sounds of up-and-coming artists Phantogram. The recently signed Barsuk Records band found an enthusiastic and slightly intoxicated crowd at the Monkey House on Feb. 22. What they described as dream pop — drony, angular, psychedelic, swirly music was right at home in this local, welcoming music establishment.Sarah Barthel and Joshua Carter comprise the duo, which formed in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., in 2007, originally as “Charlie Everywhere.”  They changed the name to Phantogram, an optical illusion, after copyright issues.The band focused on this illusive quality during their show, projecting distorted pictures of nature on the backdrop behind them.  Friends since freshman year of high school, the two perform cohesively together. Barthel’s liquid voice flows over her synth-inspired keyboard, with Carter’s guitar weaving head-heavy melodies that add to the music’s dark lyrics.The duo decided to unite after a hiatus due to college and other bands.”She was in Burlington, I was in New York and we both moved back home.  Very much a transition period … I quit a band and she was done with school, ” Carter said.In an attempt to create music with admirable elements and ideas, Phantogram has eclectically mixed many influences, from ‘60s French pop to Interpol. Intriguingly, the band’s sound, with electric beats and haunting voices, is urban, whereas their hometown of Saratoga Springs is rural.Most of the recording was done on farmland east of Saratoga Springs, where Carter and his family grew up.”[We recorded here] mainly because we can make a lot of noise, it’s cheap and there are no distractions,” Carter said.But with this freedom came the depressing feeling of being alone, far from civilization. “In the middle of nowhere there is a certain loneliness and desolation to feel, to break free of chains,” he said.  “It is like driving down a dark tunnel with that tiny pinhole of light at the end.”The lyrical content of “Eyelid Movies” is dark, but it encourages the audience to break free of their own chains through a musical escape.  For both of them, the songwriting process is unique every time. “The songs that came easy happened instantaneously… [we’d] jam over a simple beat, lyrics would pour out,” Carter said.Some music reviewers are quick to slap a label on the band as electronic.  Rather, the human element of produced beats lies in the fact that they are organic: chopped up samples of live drums, guitar and synth.Phantogram’s plans are to continue touring, an experience they have found amazing.  With initial support from NPR and a college radio series in Oregon, they eventually earned the attention of Barsuk Records.  “In October we signed with Barsuk — super nice guys.  People we really admire are digging into our music,” Carter said.For soft-spoken Barthel, the Monkey House was a reminder of her college days at Champlain College.”There is a good energy in Burlington,” she said, “even though the weather is shit.””I got approached by a student to start a Burlington screenwriting group,” Walsh said. “The idea is to have it be an open forum to screenwriting.””It’s kind of taken on a life of it’s own,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll keep developing it.”It represents a great opportunity for those who are thinking about writing a screenplay, allowing for a wide variety of students’ abilities, Hull said.