Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Shawn Biggs at Studio Paradiso, San Francisco, California
Working your way through this session in an orderly fashion will take you from the brink of a disturbance, some unsettling flutters of the heart and the pit of the stomach, into a full-blown asylum of patients who have gone off their meds and are running the place. You're plunged into the kind of madness where being able to tell up from down is virtually impossible. It's where the ticking of a clock is more like the inferno slam of a sledgehammer against a boulder. Wham, wham, wham, the suddenly hot and bulging blood is throwing itself against the insides, sloshing up against the backs of our eyes and kicking the splash halfway up our throat.
These three songs, performed in San Francisco, during a short six-day West Coast tour, are sly riddles that scribble themselves every which way but loose - sometimes sounding the way a helicopter crashing after hitting a highline with its blades might look and most other times sounding like the thoughts that must being rattling around in the heads of crows as the perch high in the trees and survey.
Colin Stetson, a master in his own right and a member of Bon Iver's formidable band, Sarah Neufeld, the violinist for Arcade Fire and Gregory Rogove, a founding member of Megapuss, with Devendra Banhart, came together on this Alone Together tour and their individual contributions accentuate the minutiae of the blistering firings that shoot off through a brain that's willing to entertain them.
Neufeld contributes a piece that feels as if it's a leftover from the Dust Bowl era, the winds having kicked up mightily and the old windmills spinning in crazed, rusted and creaking circles, depending on the will of the gusts. It feels warm, worn and sad in parts, dipping into all of those elements with different degrees of urgency. They are chapped memories, still being lived in, still ruminating. Rogove's song begins this suite and it's the gathering of clouds. It's people bringing the animals into the barn and taking covering, preparing for the worst, for the hunting dogs and for the coming darkness. When we get to Stetson, the gates have opened up completely and there's no telling where all of the banshees came from. They must have come in through the basement windows and up the stairs, easily getting to us through the door that's never locked. This is a havoc that we could have never seen coming.
Colin Stetson Official Site
Sarah Neufeld Official Site