Posts Tagged ‘Room 40’

Andrew Tuttle

Sorely missing from the pages of RSTB has been any mention of Andrew Tuttle. That’s on me. Several albums deep at this point, he’s racked up stage time with Ryley Walker, Steve Gunn, Matmos, Julia Holter, and Daniel Bachman. His latest for Room 40 is a pastoral source of rejuvenation in parched times. Centering around his banjo and guitar work, the record enters a lot of the same eddies as Nathan Salsburg, a fellow picker who’s music tends not to overwhelm with flash, but who instead builds a world out of gently burbling patience and calm. Make no mistake, both have skill to spare, but knowing that there’s more to gain in shading and shifting tones is a particularly lovely persuasion within the world of fingerpicked guitar. Tuttle lets notes hang in the air and dissipate. Banjos waver on the winds, reverberated guitar soaks into the skin and underneath he sketches field recordings with a fine brush.

Cut through with an outdoor ambiance, and a communal backporch air, the record is incredibly unfussed at first blush. The stitches on the songs are barely visible, owing much to Tuttle’s ability to make his compositions feel like they might have been improvisations, but there’s more of a unified thread here than he first lets on. Tuttle plays like a quilter, weaving picture patterns that come into focus the further one backs away from the record. There’s a natural awe to the album, that’s expressed between the patient notes that Andrew and his collaborators concoct. Those collaborators play no small part in shaping Alexandra as well. The indelible color of Chuck Johnson’s pedal steel has been a part of many great 2020 LPs and he lends it to a couple of tracks here, as well as acting as producer for the record. Tony Dupe (Saddleback), Sarah Spencer (Blank Realm), Gwenifer Raymond (Tompkins Square), Joel Saunders (Spirit Bunny) and Joe Saxby (These Guy) also find their way into the ranks, fleshing out the tessellated universe that Tuttle constructs across these nine songs. 2020 has become a year for exploring quietude in deeper dimensions, and to that end, Alexandra is a welcome portal to a stiller set of sounds.




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High Aura’d & Josh Mason

A new collaboration between High Aura’d and Josh Mason dips a bit of Florida burn into Ohio’s noise scene. Last found creeping around the RSTB pages with his psych-folk outfit Gemini Sisters, John Kolodij’s High Aura’d has remained a long-standing stain (in a great way) on the Midwest’s noise nooks and psych-folk circles. This time the he works with Mason to wind through the hushed corners of menacing silence — distant echoes, scrapes unseen, the mind playing constant tricks on the listener. Underneath the unsettling clatter, guitars seethe and kick at the amplifier, never bursting forth from their bounds, but pressing against the restraints with a physical presence. Opener “Rhododendron” howls — a trapped animal in full panic, hackles raised, poised to strike.

Further in the feelings are less feral and more fetal. “Silver” trims the fangs, and feels remorseful, shamed, not quite broken, but close. The arc of the record then follows to transcendence, coiling again into strength. The guitars on “Black” burn with a caustic tension that feels on par with Stephen R. Smith’s various convergences under the Ulaan banner. Here too there’s the sense of gnawing desperation and icy will that Smith has been able to imbue his works with all these years. The record draws to a close dug further into depths than before — alive but barely, breathing in spite of itself. There’d be a bit of relief in the final moments but the pair let just a glimmer of iris and a glint of fang show all the way to the end. Both artists are pushing their personal styles to the edges and coming out with a collaboration that’s riveting the whole way through.



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