John Vanderslice White Wilderness

John Vanderslice White Wilderness
John Vanderslice recorded the nine tracks on White Wilderness in just three days, an impressive feat, considering the album's lush orchestration and rich, baroque textures. Vanderslice is backed by previous collaborators the Magik*Magik Orchestra, whose strings and horns give the songwriter's folksy tunes a dramatic, theatrical edge. The album is mellow and haunting, for the most part, the perfect soundtrack for the quiet, snowy landscape suggested by the title. This is never more apparent than on "White Wilderness," a striking ballad on which hushed whispers give way to jarring piano chords and quietly simmering desperation. Elsewhere, "Sea Salt" begins as a scrappy acoustic rocker before the strings swoop down and envelop Vanderslice's poignantly strained vocals. If you were disappointed by Sufjan Stevens' electronic turn last year, this will give you the chamber folk fix you were looking for. (Dead Oceans)