Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Jon Ashley, Recorded at Echo Mountain in Asheville, N.C., in October 2010, during MoogFest
After listening to Delicate Steve's debut album, "Wondervisions" for the fourth time today - this even coming a few months after hearing the album for the first time and watching Steve Marion and band pull these songs off live in our for-the-weekend-studio in Asheville, N.C. - I couldn't help but still be at a relative loss as to what should be said about it. There are literally thousands of images that it brings to the front of the line and there are all kinds of quirky sensations that arise from one second to the next second and it's all a bit overwhelming. One of the first things I did was I went to YouTube to see what all I could find in the way of footage and interviews of Ravi Shankar. For one of the strongest feelings that came from "Wondervisions" was that of construction and improvisational, spiritual creation through some kind of sixth sense that seems exceptionally ludicrous when writing about a young guitar player from an indie rock heaven like Brooklyn, New York, but it couldn't be helped. In watching the great cool of Shankar, sitting cross-legged with his sitar - with eyes closed tight for the performance, it doesn't seem so far-fetched from what Delicate Steve makes and plays. We wonder how Marion gets to his wildly imaginative phrasings and structures, but a bit of a Shankar interview, in which he's joined by George Harrison, offers a possible insight when The Beatle explains, "After all, we're actually spirits in these bodies." This makes sense in trying to determine where Delicate Steve gets at those unconscious grooves and those liquid vibes. Although what we hear on "Wondervisions" carries with it more structure and more calculation than we'd immediately attribute to the bewitching pieces that Shankar makes, you'd never really know it. Up and down the record, we feel as if there are true moments of new inspiration, of new insights that are being written into the story as they're coming to Marion. There are lines and streams of consciousness that get listened to and then figured out on the spot, pushing aside any of the conventions or easy trajectories. "Butterfly," a late album cut that is distinct and sunny, is a rumination of popcorn drums, arcade-like electronics, amazingly affected guitars and the feeling you get when you've got a great big mug of beer, with a picturesquely appropriate head of foam on top and the prettiest girl in the bar sitting right next to you and EVERYTHING'S going right with the world. God, you just want to rip all your clothes off, take one for the road and just run into the ocean, hand-in-hand with that pretty girl. Delicate Steve could help make all of this a reality, we believe.