For 22 years, Windy Weber and Carl Hultgren have been making music together. The husband and wife owners of Stormy Records in east Dearborn are busy putting the finishing touches on a currently untitled full-length album and a two-song EP, both expected to release early next year.
"It's one new piece that's a new composition and one song that is a cover song," Weber said of the vinyl-only EP to be issued under the Geographic North label. "It's a country song."
While they won't mention the specific song they are covering, they did say it is a Dwight Yoakam tune from the '90s.
"In our own style, of course," Hultgren added.
Critics have labeled their style as "space-rock" and "post-rock," even "American shoegazing" thanks to their use of guitar effects and subtle vocals.
Their first album, Portal, was self-released in 1992 and available only on cassette before it was picked up by Ba Da Bing Records and released on CD. With a discography of more than 20 releases across multiple recording labels, Windy and Carl deliver ambient music that is a richly textured and layered soundscape.
Fans have declared them perfect headphone music, and an iTunes review of their last album, 2008's Songs for the Broken Hearted, said they "continue to push avant-noise compositions into deeper, darker and unexpectedly beautiful realms."
Their forthcoming releases promise to continue this trend, offering tracks composed of synthesized droning laced with guitar strums and feedback, Fender Rhodes electric keyboard notes, environmental sounds and sparse vocals that Weber calls "vaguely psychedelic" and "cinematic."
"It's definitely the sort of thing that you can have your own daydreams to while it's on," she said. "Part of the beauty for us of making music is that it allows us to express things that we don't necessarily have words for."
Their new album promises to be a more positive endeavor than past releases like Broken Hearted, or Weber's solo album, I Hate People, which were borne out of difficult times the couple faced.
"The things we're doing now have a much smoother, gentler side to them," she said. "They're really beautiful pieces."
Moving into a new home, in a neighborhood in west Dearborn where they are virtually surrounded by friends and loved ones they've known for the better part of 20 years, and adopting a puppy have all had a tremendous restorative effect on the couple. Their refocused energies have helped fuel their newest musical endeavors.
"We've realized how lucky we are to be together and have such a great relationship," Weber said. "We've really been able to refocus on why it is that we're together and we're married and we do all these things together."
Their musical partnership, much like their marriage, is a collaborative effort, with each helping and supporting the other to shape the sounds of their music.
"Primarily, Carl has ideas and he starts recording them and then we will either work on a piece together instrument-wise and fill it out," she explained.
"Oftentimes, he has pieces that are pretty much finished and then I have to find a way to wiggle in some of my own something into them," she continued. "And other pieces we'll just sit down together and both start playing our guitars and come up with something absolutely brand new on the spot."
Their music consists of very little post-production work, preferring to record their music live and mix it, adding reverb to expand the soundscape–a very old-school technique.
"We still record on reel-to-reel tape, so we have an eight-track machine that we use," Hultgren said. "There's next to no post-production work or effects."
"Pretty much what you hear when you listen to our music is what it sounded like as it was being recorded," Weber said. "It is far more organic-sounding than a good deal of what is produced in the music scene today."
On occasion, their recording and mixing efforts consist of simply bouncing tracks back and forth between an old cassette boom box, a four-track cassette recorder, and a dual-cassette deck in order to produce a song's broadly layered, full-sounding ambience.
"It's not overly experimental at all, most of the time," Hultgren said. "Sometimes the songs are simple songs, but there's a lot of stuff going on inside the songs and the melodies."
"We work on things sort of like puzzles or mazes," Weber added. "It's messy and there's never a set way as to how anything happens, but it works for us."