Golden Retriever


Portland’s Golden Retriever continue down their rabbit hole of avant garde explorations, again positioning effected bass clarinet against a sea of synths. This time, however, aided with a grant from Portland’s Regional Arts & Culture Council, the band expanded their reach to a full ensemble. The addition of strings, pipe organ, and an expanded winds section gives Rotations a fuller sound than the band has previously explored. Though, the additional heft of instrumentation doesn’t sway the band from their core sound which acts as a focal point throughout. There’s a familiar solemnity to the record that feels at once doused in the emotional spectrum that Golden Retriever often wade.

Emotions seem to be a focal point of the record in fact. The central theme that peeked out of the band’s sessions was the cyclical nature of hardship and endurance. It’s a constant pull between overwhelming escalation and tearful relief. The duo have a knack for the former, that’s for sure. When they want to express the crush of confusion, frustration and strife, the pieces can come on with an intense pressure that’s exacerbated by headphones. The synths buzz like nagging hornets at the mind until, when it comes, relief is welcomed and blessedly tranquil. It’s a record that’s skillfully executed but probably cautiously approached if you find yourself in the pocket of frustration itself. For those looking to scrape the pain away with noise and nourish with ambient calm, this is a worthwhile journey. If you’re only looking to soothe, perhaps look to the last two tracks, which are a decidedly gorgeous comedown.

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