Posts Tagged ‘Ryley Walker’

Charles Rumback & Ryley Walker

Following up on their 2016 collaboration for Dead Oceans, Chicago drummer Charles Rumback and Ryley Walker head over to Thrill Jockey for a second set of skitter and strum. Again, tacking away from Ryley’s singer-songwriter impulses and into instrument folk that pushes beyond the boundaries that the genre might entail, the pair prove perfect foils for one another. Walker has ensconced himself in two forms over the last few years and his collaborations with Bill MacKay, Running, Rumback and most recently Steve Gunn have proven the artist’s prowess in mapping the more experimental mores of the improv terrain. Here, the set starts out warm and sunny, beset by fingerpicked runs and jazz sweeps through the kit. Opener “Half Joking” yawns with an early morning saunter, a song fit for the porch before the day takes shape.

As their work wears on the duo introduce a darker tone, replacing the burble of strings with more sawed and sore drones on “Idiot Parade” and letting the cloud cover choke out their earlier ease. The following, “And You, These Sang,” brings and air of consternation, a pang of hurt that’s moth eaten in places by fuzz and smeared with the handprints of white-knuckle tension trying not to seep its way to the surface. They toggle back and forth between air and void before tumbling completely into the latter on “If You’re Around and Down” a meditative respite that rolls with Rumback’s slow-motion heat-lightning patterns before the stormbreak relief of “Worn and Held” washes over the listener in liquid bliss. In some ways Walker’s dedication to the Chicago post-rock set that underpinned his last record rears its head here, feeling like the ghosts of Tortoise have inhabited the American Primitive. Walker’s been having a hell of a year live and Little Common Twist seeks to translate that energy into the studio setting as well.



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Charles Rumback & Ryley Walker – “Half Joking”

Drummer Charles Rumback and Ryley Walker re-team for a new record on Thrill Jockey and it pulls them both out of their camps a bit. When we all last left Ryley he was exploring the boundaries of Chicago’s post-rock history. The record lay in stark contrast to his earlier folk works, but opened him up a starker side of his writing. Rumback, for his part has spent the last decade plus exploring jazz complexities with the likes of John Hughes, John Tate, Colorist, and From Beyond. The pair found themselves together on record in 2016 for Dead Oceans, exploring the waters somewhere between Ryley’s Deafman Glance setup and those collaborative moments in Rumback’s catalog. This time, though, the mode is decidedly more serene, hearkening back to some of Walker’s English folk leanings early on. “Half Joking” is a pastoral ripple across the strings that spreads out wide and winsome over the sun-dappled fields. Quite a nice offering from the pair. Look for Little Common Twist out November 8th.



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Ryley Walker Presents Imaginational Anthem, Vol. 9

When acoustic guitar haven Thompkins Square first came to the fore in 2005, they began with a series called Imaginational Anthem which sought to shed some light on overlooked entries to the fingerpicked oeuvre. They’ve cycled through a few (or 9 to be exact) and as of 2010 the series began to look into more contemporary players with one artist doing the curating. This time around its generational mouthpiece and all-around jack of all genres Ryley Walker doing the picking. He’s gone deep into his bench of contemporaries for a set that includes faves like Mosses, Fire-Toolz, and new BBiB signing Kendra Amelie, who shares the first track from the comp. Check out “Boat Ride,” a decidedly more acoustic affair than her upcoming longplayer, but no less captivating or technically astounding. The comp is out September 20th.





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Moon Duo – “Lost Heads”

Another gem drops from the new Moon Duo record and this time its a headier bit of ballast than the last time around. Where the title track to Stars Are The Light sparkled with enough shimmer to warrant its title, “Lost Heads” is a deeper dive into what Moon Duo do best. The track pulses with rhythm — hot, humid, palpable — but it also drips with the usual streaked condensation and liquid guitar intensity that the band’s been known for. While this album is pushing closer to the disco vein this time around, this is not the track for the floor, or at least the dancefloor. This is more of a lying on your back, staring at the ceiling, trying to come down affair. Moon Duo have built a legacy on splitting the veil between darkness and light and this is one of those tracks tottering on the knife edge they wield so well. Still very excited to have these guys playing the site’s upcoming 13th anniversary in November. Check back for a new announcement on that next week. Good news a’comin’.




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One Eleven Heavy

As I’ve certainly mentioned previously, One Eleven Heavy comes stacked with a considerable cache of talent – roping in members of Wooden Wand, Endless Boogie, Royal Trux, Desmadrados Soldados De Ventura, and Ryley Walker’s touring band. While the players personal geographies run the span on the Hubeadian Map, drawing in both Coasts and dipping into the UK with Nick Mitchell Maiato, the band shares a unmistakable thread of Cosmic Americana between them. That particular strain of jam-seeded classic rock seems to have sprung up from the ground again in thick ripples over the last few years, reaching full maturity in this year of our lord 2018 and One Eleven Heavy arrive baptized in its blood and spreading the gospel well.

Like the crews of their cosmic brethren (Howlin’ Rain, Garcia Peoples, Wet Tuna), they’re hitting full stride with heady jams that hearken back to the years occupying the comedown close of the Summer of Love, with the ideals of the psychedelic era already starting to fade in the rearview and the amphetamine sweat of ’72 just starting to coalesce. The band strips back the stigma of extended time stamps while they work their way through a set that feeds on Levon’s legacy and elevates Little Feat from the sidelines of drive time radio. They channel the Burritos in their unjustly ignored post-Parsons years, while scraping just a touch of Gene Clark’s breakdown brilliance from No Other.

The record tangles the subtle twang of those raised on a diet of jukebox country crooners with the salt scrub of Western air, laying songs back into a pocket that exists somewhere between chooglin’ and juggin’ depending on how deep you want to dive into your own psychedelic pockets. For a debut, the record feels remarkably lived in. Fresh out of the shrink it already assumes frays and stains that belie its vintage, as if it can’t help but come from the plant with ring wear and a hint of basement musk. The band taps the telepathy of players that have shared stages far longer than their brief tenure – a testament to the individuals assembled – and one can only assume that each of the album’s songs is given a new life on the stage. On record, though, it shines bright as Orange Sunshine, an instant classic that should hook the heads who walked the lot and open up a new era for those who only soaked in the sun through Dick’s picks and regret.

While the record’s up on Bandcamp as of last Friday, and you damn well should have bought it already, its highly likely the rest of you are hitting the three spin cap, leaving you ostensibly out of luck until the record hits Spotify this upcoming weekend. However, for the next week, before the record hits streaming proper, you can get the full view from Soundcloud below. Don’t say we never did anything for ya.




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Ryley Walker

The curse of making an album that’s hailed as great is that it haunts your career, rearing its head wherever you go, always an accolade and an albatross at the same time. In the wake of Primrose Green Ryley Walker was lofted up as the heir to knotted folk’s throne, though it always seemed that he had no interest in resting there for any length of time. That album’s follow-up, Golden Sings That Have Been Sung, was a looser bar-rock exploration that was summarily panned for not sounding enough like its predecessor, for not settling onto the throne. It was an unfair assessment met with some frustration by the artist, and rightfully so. With Deafman Glance Walker firmly asserts that genre is an exercise and not a defining characteristic of an artist. He shirks once and for all the shadow of Primrose and leaves us with his darkest, most complex and delicately shaded album yet.

There’s hardly a trace of folk proper on Deafman, though it perhaps shows up most prominently in Telluride Speed with its woven plucks and autumnal flute. As with the majority of Walker’s works on the album, though, the simple bliss is shot through with bent jazz markers and frustrated electric runs. As the album progresses, Walker pushes a notion of texture over melody and the album begins to color in like an abstract painting with dark, furious patches in one corner and gorgeous, light swipes on the opposite edge. Don’t let that imply that the record has an improvisational nature, far from it. Like the best abstracts the seemingly jarred elements are planned and structured to look haphazard, but without the forethought the juxtapositions would never land.

Walker recorded the album in Chicago and has referenced the city’s sounds as an influence, one that can indeed be felt in the margins of Deafman Glance – the soul of a poet squeezed through the equations of Tortoise or Gastr del Sol. Lyrically, Walker’s still sitting in the corner of the bar, though this time there’s more whiskey and solitude than good laughs and cheap beer. The album is certainly ruminating in its heart, absorbed in itself for better or worse. With Deafman Glance, however, Walker has knocked out an album that’s as visceral and tactile as his early works are ephemeral and airy. This is a true step forward, and while there are certainly no hooks that are going to keep nudging you back, the innate desire to stare at Walker’s void and discern the depths is rather addictive.




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Ryley Walker

Emerging from the accolades of a beloved album is no easy feat. Walker’s previous album Primrose Green nailed the stylistic marks of the wave that crested out of the ’60’s folk boom and into the jazz inflections and more experimental lengths that would fleck landmarks like Astral Weeks, Goodbye and Hello or Roy Harper’s Flat, Baroque and Berserk. So where do you go from there? Walker follows his Tim Buckley muse down the line and reaches for the more sprawling and ambling shores of Blue Afternoon. He pines for the expansive reach of Gene Clark’s No Other. One would think maybe he was pushing for Harper’s Stormcock too, with talks of the suited record he originally envisioned. In that regard, he pushes the track lengths here past the scope of typical pop.

Occasionally this works and Walker winds up untethered and spinning into a kind of poetic grace. Other times he’s letting himself stretch a bit longer than the song calls for, allowing some live instincts to drape onto the studio for a track that feels like the session was likely fun that day, with precision players feeling their way to a resolution, but at the expense of the listener’s attention (see: “Sullen Mind”). But when he’s on, he’s on and that’s more often than not. Walker allows his indulgences, as did plenty of those tumbling out of the ’60s and into a more progressive ’70s, but his troubadour’s soul saves him from an experimenter’s curiosity.

It’s taken me a little while to let this one settle because its been too damn hot to even let it into my consciousness. Golden Sings That Have Been Sung is an autumnal record for sure. Its the kind of record that’s comfortable with its collar braced against the wind. Some records are, quite frankly, whiskey records and this is one of them. Its not an all night bender, mind you, its the kind of record that finds the sweet harmony between the joy of day drinking in good company and that warm ball of contended sadness that forms about four or five drinks in. Maybe that’s why it meanders a bit, in that state everything seems like a better story and there’s a tendency to become a bit maudlin; to ponder mistakes and religion and fate. The record stretches out and wraps its arms around the listener like a bar buddy it’s never known sober and one whom it hopes will listen to its woes a little while and nod sympathetically. There’s a charm to that kind of person and in turn that kind of record. Walker’s an accomplished musician and Golden Sings showcases his ambition, even when it gets the better of him.




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