Watter is a new trio made up of close friends and collaborators whose collective pedigree reads like a desert island list of must-haves in experimental rock musicians. Multi-instrumentalists Zak Riles (Grails) and Tyler Trotter are anchored by legendary drummer Britt Walford (Slint, Evergreen) on six genre-defying pieces of monolithic mood music. For Riles and Trotter, it’s a chance to dig deeper into the sandbox in which Grails have sculpted many mercurial masterpieces in recent years; for Walford, it’s the opportunity to play a substantial role in a new active band for the first time in nearly twenty years.
Written, recorded, and produced entirely in the group’s collective studios in Louisville, KY, This World is a stunning combination of heady psychedelic rock, vintage cinematic New Age explorations, and sinister Krautrock, performed with seemingly endless stamina. Born out of many late-night jam sessions, many songs also feature fellow Louisville icons – Rachel Grimes (Rachel’s) provides several of the album’s most sublime moments, and The For Carnation’s Todd Cook lays the heavy, bass-driven foundation for the penultimate epic, “Seawater.”
This World is the kind of album that inspires renewed wonder in the mysterious powers of Louisville’s water supply. It draws impossibly broad inspiration from decades of Eastern and Western folk, rock, ambient, film score, library music, and neoclassical, and masterfully emerges with an ever-enveloping suite perfectly befitting its constantly curious composers.
Lilacs & Champagne, the project of Grails’ Emil Amos and Alex Hall, is built on warped samples and scorched guitar solos, creating a playful, psychedelic take on damaged funk and pop. The duo’s 2012 self-titled debut suggested a template for a new kind of psychotic mood music, and the follow up, Danish & Blue, manages to be both darker and more ambitious. “Lilacs & Champagne was created to be a direct tribute to the musical outsiders of the past” says Hall.
Made up of sounds sourced from Scandinavian porn and hyper-obscure b-movies from the late ’60s, Danish & Blue pulls from records other DJs wouldn’t touch by strategy. “We want to twist the knife as far as it can go into sample-based methodology, by taking pieces of loner music history and empowering them to shed light on both the pathetic side of human life and its improbable beauty.” says Amos.
Midnight Features is a new series of “fantasy records” imagined by Lilacs & Champagne’s Emil Amos and Alex Hall. Inspired by the classic Marvel comic series What If?, the duo seek to place themselves into various musical eras, expanding and perverting each new stylistic context they land in. This first volume, Shower Scene, was inspired by the background music from 1970s TV shows – the frenetic solos, sleazy funk lines and jazz-influenced sounds that subtly lurk behind the tales of crime, drama and passion. The band scratch beneath the soft-focus surface of this era, discovering a darker, more realized territory.
Holy Sons is Emil Amos, a musician whose chameleonic tendencies and technical versatility has lead to him becoming an in demand multi-instrumentalist as a founding member of Grails and Lilacs & Champagne, as well as a member of Om and a hired gun for Jandek, to name a few. Holy Sons is at the center of his many musical personalities and is his longest standing project, acting as an outlet for some of his most personal and direct songs.
It’s hard to pull off such a cohesive mood piece from found sources, but Amos and Hall are so clearly in love with the sampled material that it never feels anything but natural. Title track “Danish & Blue” is all digital chaos and hyper-compressed drums, with the duo creating machine funk from vintage synth samples and expertly placed streaks of guitar. It’s knowing but visceral, tongue-in-cheek but dead serious about mining unexpected and disparate places for golden moments. On the too-brief “Sour/Sweet,” the duo crafts low-key beauty from stuttered drums and a distant, looped vocal sample that slowly teases out over warm vinyl crackle and piano. You feel like it should last forever.
The songs on The Fact Facer creep up on the listener, their fiercely addictive melodies unraveling slowly and purposefully. Jumping smoothly between many facets of Amos’ songwriting, the album does much to establish him as a talented multi-instrumentalist. From the lysergic leads of “Selfish Thoughts”” to the Danny Kirwan referencing solos of “Transparent Powers” and the skillful acoustic flourishes of “The Fact Facer,” Amos proves himself as adept and creative a guitarist as he is a drummer. It is telling that Amos has built up two Holy Sons bands simultaneously: one based in Portland and one based in New York. Wherever the wind takes him, there are musicians willing to pick up their instruments and follow his lead.
Arena Vienna / small hall / adv 14 € / doors 17 € / 19.00h