Published Sep 14, 2018Long-time contributor to the likes of Eels and Brian Jonestown Massacre, accomplished orchestrator Julie Carpenter makes the most of her debut with Less Bells. Conceived and recorded in a burst of inspiration prompted by a move to Joshua Tree, California, the album groans and shimmers with that hauntological desert mojo.
Carpenter leads her collaborators (Dain Luscombe, Leah Harmon, Rachel Smith and Kenneth James Gibson) through a lengthy eight-piece journey that shares sonic memetics with the dusty cinematic post-folk of Dirty Three — with less twang and a loftier order of contemporary classical grandeur.
Whatever she's aiming for over the course of the album, Carpenter hits her mark. The beauty of dawn is positively spine-tingling on album opener "Bird In Hand," and from there, the ensemble employ violin, cello, organ, bells (presumably less than initially conceived) and the occasional reverb-soaked wordless voice to venture through myriad emotional ebbs and flows so vivid you can almost taste the sand crusted tears on your sun parched lips.
Nearly halfway through, "Bombardment" arrives to wipe those tears away with soothing strings, and to set the stage for the briefly Ravi Shankar-esque subdued glory of "Golden Storm," a major highlight on an album bursting with brilliance.
Big on emotion, low on pretension and massive on vibe, Solifuge should find its way to a great many receptive ears. It's among the year's best instrumental offerings and equally recommended for fans of cinematic post-folk, classical, psychedelic, ambient and drone. (Kranky)