ANDREW WEATHERS ENSEMBLE - BUILD A MOUNTAIN WHERE OUR BODIES FALL
full spectrum 2017, edition of 300
"The last project Weathers began before decamping from his home in Oakland, California and resettling in the desert climes of Littlefield, Texas, the initial sketches that ultimately formed the bedrock of Build a Mountain Where Our Bodies Fall were written in summer 2016 with Andrew's cohorts in the Real Life Rock & Roll Band. They laid down the first tracks, which would be taken by Andrew to North Carolina. There, he linked up with the East Coast wing of his Ensemble – Eric Perreault, Erik Schoster, Rin Smith and Austin Glover – to capture their contributions and overdubs.
All told, the expansive sound displayed on the final LP only took two months to capture and construct. The result is an odd melange of cosmic psychedelia and utopian idealism, all bound together by Weathers' recent obsession with the Industry Workers of the World Little Red Songbook. A collection of union songs and anthems about reclaiming the means of production in an ongoing effort dismantle capitalism, the Little Red Songbook is an odd starting point for such immersive music; but considering Weathers' current trajectory as an artist obsessed with regaining his sense of identity in the face of late-period capitalism, it comes as little surprise he would take inspiration from such a well.
'The album is an attempt to embody the transition I'm going through in Texas,' explains Weathers. 'It's an extension of the more moderate life-thru-death zone of Fuck Everybody. There are themes of intuitive symbolism – in that we create symbols for ourselves and constantly uncovering their meanings. So, I was drawing from markers in my own life as well as more traditional symbolic structures like those found in tarot. There's also this narrative of ritual disembowelment, like a splitting up and burying of my symbolic body to reassemble the parts anew.'" - FULL SPECTRUM
i typically abridge lengthy write ups into an aperitif of sorts to concisely contextualize my buzzed blurbs and rambling incomplete sentences and formulaic phrases, but left this one intact, a discourse on identity and meaning which offers compelling insight supplemental to the music, if that's you thing, which for me it rarely is, as i don't venture much beyond the listening experience -music is more like a drug for me- but it seems clear that this music strives for something beyond the notes, beyond the syntax, beyond the junkie's listening experience, and even i am moved by it, so credit where credit is due
"an odd melange of cosmic psychedelia and utopian idealism" - that's a lot to unpack, i'll tackle the latter first - i tend toward the dystopian by way of skepticism, which i don't think would surprise a regular reader - but i don't think i need to manage a temporary cessation of my shrug-full embracement of the KEYNESIAN truth "in the long run we're all dead" in order to reap the benefits of this album - am i trying to dismantle capitalism? no, but the music is still incredibly vivid and it cleanses my mind -- it's an oasis in the desert - you may enjoy any spectrum of meaning or symbolism you might care to attach to it and its discovery, but you can also just enjoy the oasis, immensely
i'm more confident in my evaluation on the "cosmic psychedelia" front - BUILD A MOUNTAIN is to both traditional folk and minimalism, separately yet simultaneously, somehow, like what IAN WILLIAM CRAIG's CENTRES is to modern pop music - it's incredible - it's most (all?) the same personnel from 2015's F*CK EVERYBODY, which didn't hit me anywhere near as hard as this does - and if that one was "obsessed with looking outside of itself to synthesize a deeper meaning" then BUILD A MOUNTAIN is the fruit of that labor, everything clicks into place
consider GLOVER and PERREAULT's FREIGHT 1110 THROUGH GREENSBORO [way back REC #9] and also BLAINE TODD's DILLINGHAM [REC #58] -both top shelf tapes via WEATHERS operations FULL SPECTRUM and LITTLEFIELD, respectively- i think their styles and influences are better integrated, seamlessly folded into the mix -
traditional appalachian sounds and songcraft spirited away into modern folk experimentation - AWE seem major (indie) label ready in the best possible way - here's an album out of nowhere(ish) that unexpectedly and understatedly yet brilliantly connects the dots between WILLIAM TYLER's move to MERGE and TIM HECKER's to 4AD - maybe think EARTH meets SUN KIL MOON, both served sunny side up alongside PHILIP GLASS and PHAROAH SANDERS on muscle relaxers - elegant countrified minimalism with a nice desert fried texas flavor, with a contemplative post rock atmosphere a la ZELIENOPLE, occasionally overlapping weirdo folk like TUCKER THEODORE sober and lost in deep thought
this could very well be the best album of the year right here