Got a double dose of Donaldson (Glenn) on the brain this week. Covering the pop side of the spectrum was the new single from Helpful People yesterday. Today’s release shifts the dial back to Donaldson’s headier psych days, finding him pairing up with former Thuja bandmate Steven R. Smith and psych mainstay Brian Lucas for the latest release as 43 Odes. Smith and Donaldson were both frequent contributors to the Jewelled Antler lore, and it’s little surprise that they’ve crossed paths with Oakland’s Brian Lucas, who’s found himself haunting similar sectors of psych with Dire Wolves, Angel Archer, and as his solo signature, Old Million Eye. The Odes have cropped up before on Eiderdown, but HWN UN AMN marks the band’s fist LP release, divining an elegiac air that’s somewhere between dub and devotional.
Threaded with a conservatory’s worth of instrumentation — spike fiddle, organ, bouzouki, harmonium, banjo, synths, space harp, and Lucas’s tape manipulation — the record is anchored to a persistent patter of hand drums intermingled with electronic percussion. Slight Eastern winds billow through the heart, plunged in darkness, seeking divinity, doused in the unknown. Smith has proven plenty adept over the years at crafting a cinematic scope to his works, especially under the various Ulaan (Jathina, Khol, Markhor, Passerine) aliases, and that quality finds its way into the flow of HWN UN AMN.
The record stretches around mountain passes and through thickly wooded environs, luring the listener into its enticing grip. The band’s last outing was similarly scarred by psych folk, but what’s really evolved here is the band’s sense of groove that underpins quite a few passages that swerve from peril to pastoral. It’s an ambitious outing from a trio of trusted troubadours — one that finds its way crawling high into the ranks of their collective catalogs.
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