“Love Hotel”
(REC Records)

Some surprises reveal themselves to you gradually. Birds of Paradise, the duo of Roy Vucino and Hannah Lewis, move slowly, meticulously, deliberately on their REC Records EP “Love Hotel,” a dark jazz-inflected noir narrative that has much in common with Badalamenti, or at least the “Twin Peaks: The Return” soundtracks. They don’t so much play as conjure, compose as dust the air with their black magic. Along with André the Maji, the couple crafts tragic soundscapes and forlorn hymns, blown by the wind till they’re ghosts of memory.

“Love Hotel” begins with a ten-minute reimagining of Duke Ellington’s “Sentimental Mood,” here cast as a drone piece over which Lewis’s voice floats like a feather on a stream. The drone gradually cracks and falls apart into dissonance, but not before revealing a complete mastery of juxtaposition between beauty and tension. The next three tracks are all less than a minute long, but they all follow a similar experimental path, each angling for attention amid the longer “show” pieces. “Waterdrops” even poses as a mystical folk number, the Lewis-penned song’s brevity only serving to reinforce the confidence the band has in it.

“Autumn Done Come” anchors the tape, the penultimate track (right before the minute-long “Echolalia”), a torch song that wouldn’t be out of place on a Nick Cave recording. It’s the closest Birds of Paradise come to traditional songcraft, but still, its unsettled attitude makes it the perfect kind of tune to show up at the Bang Bang Bar during one of “Twin Peaks’s” episode-ending performances. There I go again with a “Twin Peaks” reference, like I’ve got it on my brain or something. David Lynch and Dean Hurley missed an opportunity by not booking these guys, methinks.

Birds of Paradise