Wow… was the
last Rebecca Gates record really in 2001? Over a decade ago?! Well, that’s what
I’m reading. Apparently after a 2001 tour opening for Stereolab Gates returned
home exhausted and broke and decided it was time for a big change. She curated
art exhibitions, co-founder/edited The
Relay Project (audio magazine) and did some music for documentaries and
films as well. In 2003 Gates moved to Rhode Island
(after a decade or so in Chicago, moving there
from her previous longtime home in Portland,
Oregon) and in 2004 began record
The Float so, if my math is correct, this record was in the making for 8 years.
There’s plenty of musicians on this record, 17 in all (including members of Mr.
Malkmus’ Jicks, the Decemberists, Wild Flag, the Sea and Cake and plenty more),
which perhaps lead to the name of the band.
Gates has always
been a fluid, intuitive songwriter with one of those perfect voices that sounds
feminine yet masculine at the same time and her guitar playing can be described
as the same. “Van Noten 007” opens things up while “Tips on Spines” follows it
up in grittier fashion (as does the equally stunning “Harlesden to Vals”), but
“&&&” ices it off with Gates cool-as-a-cucumber delivery and some
added jazzy structures as does the shuffling “Lighter Than We Go.” Two songs
near the end, “The Curl of the Coast” and “Suite Sails” both spin intriguing
webs that must be heard.
For music fans
(and writers) who want part 2’s to always go with the part 1’s (I’m still
waiting for Manos part 2) , Gates can
be a bit thorny. Seemingly never wanting to settle for too long in one place
and for this musicians love her, but the rest of us, wanting to be able to
pigeonhole someone as this or that, get knocked out of our comfort zone.
Sometimes moments (and records) like this can be the most incredible
experiences as we’re either going to fight it or surrender to it. If you
surrender to The Float you may (will) have one of those moments. Give in, but
don’t give up.
via the 12XU label: www.12xu.net.)
DOWNLOAD: “Tips on Spines,” “&&&,”
“”The Curl of the Coast,” “Suite Sails” TIM HINELY