Awash in sound

Photo: Parker Fitzgerald

If Moon Tides, the full-length debut of indie duo Pure Bathing Culture, reads as a breath of fresh air, then Sarah Versprille and Daniel Hindman accomplished what they set out to find for themselves just over two years ago.

In 2011, the pair left its cramped digs in the frenzied, urban sprawl of New York City — and the part-time jobs necessary to keep up with the astronomic expense of residing there — for the open spaces and tree-lined streets of Portland, seeking a full-time creative life. The move spawned the sort of airy, ethereal indie pop worthy of the beauty found just miles west on the Oregon coastline.

“When we made the decision, it felt almost impulsive,” Versprille said. “Our lease came up, and we thought to ourselves, ‘Let’s try something new.’ At the time, it felt crazy, but looking back, I think it had been building for some time. We couldn’t have found a better home. It’s such a beautiful city. The majesty of this landscape, it’s really influenced the way we sound.”

The music and band were gestating before the cross-country move, and though the splash of green and blue might have been the impetus in shaping Pure Bathing Culture’s sound, the duo’s acumen was shaped well before.

Hindman and Versprille clocked years collaborating with and backing other musicians in New York and still do today after their move to Rose City; the two still tour with indie folk act Vetiver, Hindman did guitar work on Damien Jurado’s Maraqopa and Versprille can be heard singing on “San Francisco,” the standout single from Foxygen’s We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic.

The duo — who perform January 29 at Opolis — still enjoys such opportunities, but the chance to make exactly what the two want to make is invaluable and immensely rewarding. And it felt long overdue.

“To me, it’s incredible and exciting to be in the role of having creative control. It feels really good,” Versprille said. “It’s a dream come true to be in the driver’s seat.”

The twosome have used their turn in the spotlight to share sweetly sincere and sonically rich indie pop songs that have been affectionately compared to Fleetwood Mac, Cocteau Twins and Beach House since its 2012 self-titled EP. However, the thematic dealings in spirituality and mysticism and reflection on what it means to be a creature of Planet Earth drift together for Moon Tides in a way unique to Pure Bathing Culture.

Versprille credits tapping into her more primal sense of self to the album’s expansive collection of tracks, which are geared to play in tune with our environment, an anthropological mindset already being applied to a new album.

“Being in Portland or just having more space and time in our lives just gave us this opportunity to consider those sort of esoteric thoughts,” she said. “Those feelings and the sky, leaves, grass and water really made their way into the music somehow. It’s an interesting muse, and it’s fascinating to think about and create from.”

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Joshua Boydston

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