Gardens & Villa

Some band names take on a talismanic quality, revealing mystical depths the musicians may never have intended. For Gardens & Villa, the name became downright prophetic. The quartet of Chris Lynch, Adam Rasmussen, Shane McKillop, and Dustin Ineman, took their moniker from Villa Avenue, where they first shared a home – and a garden – in Santa Barbara, California. A decade and a half later, the band is set to release Ultra Terrestrial, a record that highlights Gardens & Villa’s expansive growth and familial bonds.


The California outfit first found acclaim for their emotionally resonant fusion of dream pop, psychedelia, and funk, but have since drawn inspiration from experimental and avant pop artists ranging from David Sylvian and Talk Talk to close friends and brethren like Foxygen and the late Richard Swift, producer of the band’s 2011 self-titled debut. Following three years of touring alongside acts like Foster the People, the Shins, and Broken Bells, 2014’s Dunes and 2015’s Music For Dogs expanded the band’s sound and marked their move to a shared live-work space alongside the Los Angeles River. 


Between their rapid growth and the close quarters of their warehouse home, the band eventually needed to take some time apart. Lynch and Rasmussen produced other artists, while McKillop and Ineman worked on side projects. The bandmates used their time off to explore non-musical interests, too. Lynch co-founded an organization dedicated to fruit tree care and regenerative land management, McKillop joined him, Ineman took up farming, and Rasmussen trained in carpentry. “We were all doing garden stuff or villa stuff,” Lynch laughs. 


After a few years, the group’s magnetic connection drew them back together when Lynch and McKillop took a backpacking trip in 2017. The result, 2020’s Gordon Von Zilla Presents, is a textured, experimental product of endless jamming. “No matter what, every Tuesday night we would get together and play,” Lynch says. “It was therapy—friendship, music, everything.” 


Ultra Terrestrial honors those same regenerative evenings, brimming with warm, dazzling instrumentation and a return to the band’s core. “The music itself is sort of like a balm or medicine, inspired by the trees and the plants and the soil,” Lynch says. To that end, Ultra Terrestrial opens with the breezy “Back to the Garden,” a track driven by puffs of flute and spritely electronic percussion. Later, lead single “Jewels in the River (feat. Jahsh Banks)” exemplifies their California cool with fluffy synth tones and a bouncy rhythm section pinging between glittering surf and the darkness that lies beneath. 


At its core, Ultra Terrestrial is a fascinating document of both how much has changed and the heart that has always driven Gardens & Villa. Fifteen years in, they’re still focused on the renewal the earth can offer, and on the homes that we make with each other. “We're brothers. We've been through a lot together, and now we accept each other in the fullest,” Lynch says. “This music is our life. It’s who we are. And we're going to keep doing it.”

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