Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Blues Control - Local Flavor (Siltbreeze CD)

Just in from Foxy Digitalis:

The follow-up full length to their amazing “Puff” release from a couple years back, “Local Flavor” sees the duo of Lea Cho and Russ Waterhouse teaming up with the happily resuscitated Siltbreeze imprint, about as fitting a meeting as ever there was. Continuing their unique take on post-rock uniqueness, the album sees an even further refined demonstration of Blues Control’s sound, which continues to grow without losing any sense of identity.

Opening with the aptly titled “Good Morning” the album lifts right off from the starting line, shunning the meandering groove of the band’s last effort in favor of squealing guitar and pounding, Jerry Lee Lewis piano pyrotechnics that pull from so many corners of the musical spectrum it’s tough to keep count; King Crimson, Amon Duul II, aforementioned early rockers and even Fats Waller, and all this before the saxophone comes in. Of course it’s all enmeshed in a basic blues structure, but the proggy drum machine backbeat and general dimensions of the work draw this far beyond the property of mere nostalgic congealing. Rather it is a group firmly in control of their distinct sound, always playing in the present by allowing their influences to flow naturally.

“Rest on Water” follows the opener, presenting a drifting regrouping of sorts as it meanders about with a feel not far removed from Jon Hassell’s Fourth World experiments, yet still delaying off into lands wholly their own. “Tangier” finds a series of loops, vocal and synthesized, building a rhythm that, when fully formed, leads right into some Kraftwerk style synth work circa “Autobahn.” Its sense of the horizon engenders it with the kind of hopeful optimism afforded by setting its sights on the future, snaking keyboard lines and thudding, Mustang rhythms scorching towards an endless sunset for its entire eight minutes.

The closer is where things really congeal though. “On Through the Night,” the longest piece by twofold here, opens with a static and distant rhythm overlaid by organ drift and tough to pin down vocal atmospherics. Eight minutes of this often detuning, almost sickening psychedelically, which rises and drops in pitch like the sun over water, is soon met with a patient rhythmic pulse that drives the latter half deep into space, a synth melody pushing forward in tandem with guitar before slipping deep into a jungle trance. The whole thing moves from place to place so effortlessly and distinctly, it is tough to deny the clear vision of this duo’s approach.

The real genius here however is in the album’s construction. Only four tracks long, each piece is longer than the last, meaning that the final track takes up nearly half the album’s length with its sixteen-plus minute buildup. This gives the album the same subtle sense of expansion as each track individually does, broadening the disc as it eases the listener into it. Being eased in continuously throughout necessarily means that the end requires another go at it, and there is plenty to be found upon reentry.

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