The Upshot: A set of wordless tunes from the Bay Area jazzers that emphasize mood and melody, rather than improvisation or firepower.
BY MICHAEL TOLAND
Recording instrumental music live in the studio is usually the province of jazz musicians, but don’t tell that to Desertshore. For the San Francisco band’s fifth LP Arc of An Arrow Blind, guitarist Phil Carney, keyboardist Chris Connolly and drummer Mike Wells partner with violinist Benjamin Powell and bassist Erik Kertes for a set of wordless tunes that emphasize mood and melody, rather than improvisation or firepower.
Carney favors a pedal steel-like tone, letting his carefully chosen notes resonate like a vibraphone. The classically-trained Connolly’s piano provides the tracks’ foundation, setting the tone and mood. Wells and Kertes make their presence known almost subliminally, while Powell contributes textures, rather than flowing single-note lines. “Floating,” “Sky Drifter” and “To Cross This Great Expanse” come across like ethereal soundtrack music to a film about an inner journey, remaining just compelling enough to be more than background sound.
It almost sounds like new age music, and a track like “Afterimages (Behind Your Eyes)” might well appeal to that crowd. But there’s something more substantial going on that makes Desertshore more than mere aural wallpaper.
DOWNLOAD: “Sky Drifter,” “To Cross This Great Expanse,” “Floating”