I have to admit that I have been sitting with this album for a while. It has been lurking in my ‘maybe write about’ virtual pile for about a month now. It’s not a case of whether it’s good or not, there are plenty of really good albums that I don’t write about, rather a sense of whether I can find a way in with it.
Part of the reason for this was, as guitarist Jed Brewer wrote me, is because this set of tracks is ‘all over the place’. Indeed, there have been a number of times when I have been listening to this and having to check on my screen whether it’s still the same album when the next track comes on.
This, then, is not a concept album; nor is it one that takes you on a journey. But, actually, that does not matter…. because as you get used to the track order you find yourself looking forward to what’s coming next and it becomes like a beloved mixtape, with each turn adding to your mood and enjoyment.
After an introduction like that there’s no way that I’m going to get away with a general overview of the sounds on this album, so here’s a brief ‘track by track’ to whet your appetite:
The album opens with ‘Wiretap’ which is a sinister yet funky number which initially brought an early Budos Band sound to mind. It’s a lovely complex mix of pan-continental styles out of which comes some ace guitar and brass… a wonderfully upbeat attention grabber.
After that ‘The Thirsty West’ strolls in demanding a drink and spinning a low lugubrious yarn. A much simpler and space-filled track this gets more melancholic as it progresses, especially as the flute enters the scene. Eventually you settle on a sort of hazed acceptance which is ultimately very chilled.
’Meditations Crushed’ is a shorter number which sounds like a Buddhist monk lost somewhere in the Deep South with throat singing over a bluegrass guitar… marvellously bizarre.
…and a nice palette cleanser for the title track, which sets off at glacial pace with what sounds like slowed-down free jazz… a vibe that is whispering a incantation to just chill the hell out before breaking out into a deep vibe with some very unexpected angular guitar that really rather rocks out. I love how surreal this is… and actually makes you realise that this whole album can be seen on a level of surreality. This track, in itself is all over the place, but it also works… you just need to open your mind to the possibilities that it should.
This is the point at which I most check whether I’m listening to the same album… because the Spanish guitar solo at the beginning of ‘The Emerald Triangle’ is as leftfield a turn as you can expect. Once you’ve overcome that though, just feel yourself sink into this as the drone behind it gets louder and somehow draws you even farther in…
And it’s off in a different direction again with ‘First Nation Spy’ as the funky beat returns and you’re up on your feet grooving to the flaming sax licks and general upbeat feel. You’re at once in a dank jazz club basement and running through a middle eastern souk… then all of a sudden you’re at the bridge in the track and… oh man I don’t know anymore… all I know it]s that is one hell of a track and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.
Next comes ‘Last Man Standing’ which bring the complexity down a few notches again and goes back to a few basics with the handclaps/ percussion holding it together for the soaring sax as the sound is gradually ratcheted up as instruments replace the ‘hands’… it now feels like we are marching towards some sort of denouement… until we settle back into the sound of just drumsticks, and gone.
Last up is the brilliantly titled ‘The Laser That Penetrates Your Plain-Spoken Bullshit’ which at first feels like the sound of the album finally having a breakdown as chaos seems to reign… but listen closer and you can hear the nuanced sounds separating out… it’s the equivalent of putting your hands over your ears and humming, and only after a while being able to tune back into your thoughts.
In many ways this album is all over the place… but in a year when we’ve been all over the place you could say that it nicely captures the zeitgeist. Whether or not that is your bag I would say that it’s well worth giving this one a go because persisting with it will pay you back many times over… and every listen will bring you closer to really appreciating it.
‘Emotional Crevasse’ is available now on Lather Records, and can be ordered on vinyl, CD and d/l here.
You can also read more about the making of the album here.
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