Diverging from the experimentation and scope of his previous album, The Dreaming Bridge, Matthew Rolin returns to serve a solo guitar record in the truest sense. Relying heavily on making his 12-string sing with a rhapsodic shimmer, Rolin lets notes spill over the bounds of the tape and into the speaker wires with ease. Recorded with Jeff Ziegler, the album captures Rolin’s highest fidelity offerings yet, eschewing the home recorded setup that has served as a through line with most of his works. The aural gloss gives a bit of glint to the album as Rolin winds through moments of emotional stillness and, inevitably, in our current mire, moments of bristling inner tension. While it was recorded before his recent move, the more sanguine songs reflect his shift to more rural passageways. The wind-rustled calm of “Tracks” and “Shingles” stretch out like sunbeams over endless expanses of land.
The record is tied together with the four-part mini-suite “Passing,” which, along with “Plaster” adds much of the record’s tension. The pieces fester quietly, wringing their hands in anticipation or dread. Likely it’s both in the end as the fourth movement draws away from the frittering and into a buzzing crescendo of muted panic. The second half returns to more of the pastoral beauty despite the anxiety of the suite. “Silence” feels like one of the most straightforward ambles that Rolin has ever laid to tape, feeling nicely in line with William Tyler or the recent bliss of Marisa Anderson’s album this year. Though the glimmer returns for “Vent,” a patient closer that reverberates on the air as the lights dim for the night. Just in time for the cooler weather, this one is an autumnal joy from one of the most consistently stunning guitarists going.
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