Back with more (mostly) instrumental experiments is Herbert Powell. I’ve spent a little more time with this recording than I did with the last one, mainly because there is just more here. But I also naturally feel the need to compare everything, to create some narrative of a trajectory, because really one can’t think of songs or albums as separate units, but rather just an update on the development of an artist’s own sound.
This album is more contemplative in tone than their last. The contrapuntal busyness of “Hell and Sebastian” is replaced with a bit more formal structure and conversational elements between the members of the ensemble. Ideas become more developed and less haphazard.
Take for example “Hell Farm.” The song starts out with a simple idea introduced by the guitar and the remainder of the song seeks to expand on it little by little. Things drift away and then come back; the band allows themselves to wander a bit, to explore, but never loses sight of the path.
“My Glass Teeth” (sarcastic Steely Dan reference?) is a bit more complex in it’s intertwining melodic lines, and continuously developing structure. Perhaps that really is a Steely Dan reference then.
Overall the album feels like a conversation that we’re walking into as listeners. The opening track starts in the middle, already in progress, and throughout the 8 tracks we are allowed to have a peek inside Herbert Powell’s process. It’s a fun little journey filled with all sorts of odd and interesting timbres, changes and turns of phrase, and even a few moments of strange haunting beauty (ie the ending of “I Love My Fleeto”).
I’m already looking forward to the next psychedelic experimental jam that these dudes put out.