New from Ryley Walker - a musician always willing to step outside himself to find new sounds and the one snippet we heard sounds like he's been heavily pounding the Jim O'Rourke/Gastr Del Sol axis. Sweet bucolic folk with flutes galore and some unexpected harshness. Looking forward to this one.
Staff note from Clinton:
It's very proggy. At times a bit too proggy for me but the fans of more twiddly music in the office are loving it and several listens in the constant left turns start to make more sense and you can see where he's headed with this. Somewhere between John Martyn and Weather Report with a dash of Jim O Rourke's anything goes attitude to music making.
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You simply cannot hide your prog forever. Ryley Walker tried is best, delivering gorgeous folk jazz missives from the bottom of his heart to the top of our bestsellers sheet, but he could not save us from his dark side. ‘Deafman Glance’ stands divisive of this office, a mountain-scaling record that sees Walker try new, outlandish things from within the cozy refines of his picturesque back garden.
The synths bubble and the six-strings duel as songs meander towards a new cosmos. It doesn’t detract as much as it accents his sound: “In Castle Dome” is still a gorgeous, plaintive opener of strums and flute sounds, but it develops into wayward corners, the guitars slowly picking off stranger ideas and following different routes as synths play future melodies. He finds a rapport with the aesthetics of John Martyn and Weather Report, using their light-touch prog and fusion rather than entering into the clumsy, heart-on-sleeve structure upheavals of old.
What’s the problem, honestly, when the music stays this pretty? “22 Days” shuffles its melodies and rhythms like a deck of cards, but each swift movement offers new, resplendent motifs, joining them together like they’re all part of the same team. It’s gorgeous at its most simple and complex, Walker already proving himself capable of navigating a song proper through convolution on ‘Primrose Green’. On “Can’t Ask Why”, he instigates a synth-studded drone and twiddles his guitar like someone improvising a Cafe Oto set; there’s nothing to say, once he’s built it up, other than isn’t this gorgeous, and isn’t that guitar melody a treat. More going on, but more of it Ryley.
If this is Walker’s most ambitious moment, I’ll take it: rarely does a songwriter manage to take the signature of their sound with them into the great unknown. This record’s loving ode to the later generation of prog rock -- its meditations, improvisations and vintage futurism -- here comes from a place out in the country where Walker tends to those sheep. Come enjoy the great softening of prog; this is worthy of fans old and new.
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- Deafman Glance by Ryley Walker
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