ponedjeljak, 28. siječnja 2013.

Robust Worlds - Emotional Planet (2012)

Chris Rose (Vampire Hands) golim nogama tjera ciču zimu, dok okolne planine smirujuće prebiru po njegovom psihodeličnom mozgu.


Narcotic neo-noir songwriting for fans of Amen Dunes, Kurt Vile, Kevin Ayers. "Chris Rose's Robust Worlds has impressed us since first glimpse. He was actually barefoot, if you can believe that, and his set had the feel of a way more lysergic Kevin Ayers. It was freezing fucking cold and I'm pretty sure he wore a Hawaiian shirt. His debut LP is called Emotional Planet, and it's deceptively simple. Voice, guitar, some noisey shit, whatever. His playing is sick -- fluid, unforced, warm, soothed and soothing. It's a bath you don't want to exit. Seriously, if yr going to play guitar, play it like he does. With a trick in his back pocket and a Heavy Moon on his mind, Rose utilizes the sort of neo-noir narratives that you hear thru Neil Michael Hagerty, James Jackson Toth, Kurt Vile and other keen observers. Handguns, b&e, two-lane black tops, love, lust, and hard drugs. Life: summed up!"- boomkat

While psychedelia never left the landscape of modern music once it arrived, there have been various points at which it’s been quelled in popular consciousness. Now is decidedly not one of those times, though the fact that things like the Austin Psych Fest exist don’t help the cause of legitimate sonic transcendence. Of course, transcendence is a very personal thing, and often some of the “truest” psych practitioners have put forth paths of discovery as auditory confessionals rather than a map of the zeitgeist. One thinks of figures like Roky Erickson and Syd Barrett in that regard, and a similar vibe emerges from artists as diverse as Opal and early Flaming Lips. Back to Chris Rose: Robust Worlds is his solo outfit (guitar, voice, loops, percussion), and Emotional Planet is this guise’s debut on wax. Rose is a musician-composer for whom the personal-ness of psychedelic music is decidedly front and center. For that, he might seem like an artist outside of his time, but anachronisms are easily mitigated by dedication.
The set starts near the bottom of a comedown with “Heavy Moon,” which imbues Perfect Prescription-esque reverbed and folksy plaint with a lysergic vocal twang that, at first blush, is reminiscent of D. Charles Speer’s earthy baritone. It would be easy to wrap this music completely in an addled 5 AM haze, but Rose is more interesting than that. There’s an uplift that’s almost choral to the following “Outlaws I” (cueing J. Spaceman), canned beats, and guitar covered in a gauzy wash but rendered with recognizable power. The stark plod of “Jackie Diamond” recalls the piano part of The Flaming Lips’ “Love Yer Brain” (from 1987’s Oh My Gawd!!!) and, while at first this piece appears to be a stoned refrain, the chorus’ delicate lilt and needling guitar work gives it a cottony and unsettled tenor. “Cave” is positively sunny in demeanor, taped percussion lending a calypso-like accent to a particulate and impressive range of guitar dynamics.
The set very nearly transitions into dusky dance-rock on “Human Stomp,” Rose’s vocals sliding between throaty tenor depths and a slicker, dry mid-range that rides atop a clipped backbeat and insistent six-string cells. Following a deep and terse reprise of “Outlaws,” on which the guitar work has a tundra-coating lope à la Windy & Carl, the LP closes with “It Is Not Possible,” an expansive and toothy slice of balladic grit. Emotional Planet doesn’t necessarily offer revelations, and it would be easy to see how this could be something of a “sleeper” album, but it’s a rewarding and powerful slice of tripped-out contemporary folk. Isolationist and deceptively massive, it’s also hard to imagine the curious individualism of Robust Worlds coming from anywhere other than the Great White North. - 

I am still bummed, after all the years, that Vampire Hands broke up. When I got back to the Twin Cities from college in 2008 they were one of the bands that really crystallized the “scene” for me and their split was a huge bummer. Luckily it wasn’t a “we’re having babies and giving up this music shit” split, so we have been able to hear the separate members of the group as they have continued exploring their sound on solo releases. Colin Johnson impressed with his excellent Capricorn Vertical Slum tape on Moon Glyph, while bassist Chris Beirden has been popping up everywhere (Polica, Heavy Deeds, Invisible Boy) but has yet to release a definitive solo record. Vampire Hands guitarist Chris Rose, who created those silky guitar lines that melded the kraut bass and the esoteric duel drummer machine in Vampire Hands, has also been busy. Like Beirden, he has been playing in Heavy Deeds, but he also has managed time to work under the solo moniker Robust Worlds, under which he is now releasing the album Emotional Planet on the local label De Stijl.
Vampire Hands always had a distinct avant garde take on pop music, but not matter how much they convoluted their arrangements, there was always a soul in the music. This feature comes across loud and clear on Emotional Planet, a record that is wrapped in waves of effects, but has a sensuality that is as genuine as is it powerful. The 10 songs are sparse without losing that creative edge that has always permeated the Vampire Hands crew. As with Beirden’s work with Invisible Boy, there are strands of more mainstream pop and folk music, but the songs on Emotional Planet are ornamented with Rose’s sumptuous use of studio effects. Rose’s guitar playing is fluid and lush, washing over the listener on a glistening wave of echo and reverb, never falling into a trap of sounding cheesy, but meshing superbly with the delicate vocals and sparse arrangements. Highlights are all over this record, from the previously released single “Best Wishes” to the haunted, soulful folk of “Jackie Diamonds” and back to the echo’d out pop bliss of “Outlaw.”  In a time where bands with lavish sounds (think Grizzly Bear) are getting a lot of positive attention, Robust Worlds should make a dent as they throw their (distinctly hazy) hat into the ring.
While I still constantly circle back to the Vampire Hands LP’s Me and You Cherry Red, their Skull Judge split with Daughters of the Sun and their great sendoff LP Hannah and the Mansion, it has been almost three years since the band called it quits (with a short lived run as a three piece and a few reunion shows).  With the band members branching out to new projects, it probably is time for me to move on as well.  It will be much easier if all future projects from the group are as powerful, well crafted and commanding as Emotional Planet. - www.reviler.org/

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