Phosphorescent Open Minds

Phosphorescent Open Minds
Before Matthew Houck departs for his North American tour, he's got some preparing to do. The man behind the expansive and experimental Americana outfit Phosphorescent is vowing to treat this upcoming tour differently.

"I think I'm trying to do it a lot smarter this time, in terms of my schedule," said Houck from his Brooklyn home. "And also, I'm trying to be a little healthier. Perhaps not so much self-abuse," he admits.

Houck found his swing again in 2012, beginning work on Muchacho, his latest full-length and fourth on Dead Oceans. In allowing his songs ample room to breathe, Houck rediscovered a creative fire; he's proclaimed that he'd like to write, record and release a new album every year.

"I wasn't really planning on writing any songs like the ones that ended up on the album," says Houck of the album's evolution. "The songs began taking different directions and surprising me. Once they started coming together, they were all I could focus on."

Muchacho bends and surprises with ease, from the aural comfort zone of the wading "Terror In The Canyons (The Wounded Master)" to an emotionally draining "The Quotidian Beasts." It's Americana in the broad sense, but with a matured depth. At times, Muchacho is a stark contrast to the simplistic lo-fi country he became known for on his 2007 Dead Oceans debut, Pride.

In order to continue on his mission to write and record such varied songs at a prolific rate, Houck admits he's got some work to do. "I can be profoundly lazy," he jokes. "For me, writing is an incredibly solitary thing to do. I haven't figured out how to write with other people around. It's a solitary pursuit, so I can turn it off and then sometimes I can go on tears."

To flesh out his ideas for Muchacho, the Athens-born singer-songwriter employed over 20 musicians during the recording process. The enormity of his project never overwhelmed Houck, however. Much like his new approach to touring, he's searching for a balance. Houck has no plans to slow down, nor does he believe he has to begin fiercely aligning himself with prescribed genres. What's more, he maintains no concerns about stretching himself too thin.

"The people that I brought in were all phenomenal. I did the basic tracking for the album and then I'd schedule one day at a time with the different musicians. It wasn't an issue, because it felt more natural to work one at a time with different people. It'd just become a matter of sitting down and banging it out."

Muchacho ended up being as varied a listen as the many personalities Houck employed. The man behind Phosphorescent may be beginning to understand his limits, but only to an extent. "I have a very deep-rooted mistrust of genres. In the end, I'll always defer to what the song wants. From a production standpoint, I really like experimenting."