Balmat co-founders Philip Sherburne and Albert Salinas have been fans of Shy Layers' lilting, Balearic pop for years, so when Shy Layers' JD Walsh asked us to listen to a set of demos he was working up with fellow Atlanta multi-instrumentalist Jeff Crompton, we jumped at the chance. And once we heard their work in progress, the decision was almost immediate: We have to release this.
Together, Walsh and Crompton are Anagrams, and their debut album together, Blue Voices, might initially seem like a departure from Balmat's habitually electronic terrain. It's not ambient music, but it's also not not ambient music, at least to listeners in the right frame of mind. The two musicians, who met when Walsh moved from Brooklyn to Atlanta in 2016 and began collaborating a few years later, see the music in similarly ambiguous terms. ''I like it because it's not jazz,'' jokes Crompton, a veteran and credentialed jazz player. ''And JD likes it because it's jazz.''
Crompton is a musician (and former high-school band teacher) with deep roots in Georgia's improvised and experimental music scenes; his credits include shows with Eugene Chadbourne, a guest appearance with Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and a collaboration with Duet for Theremin and Lap Steel's 12-hour drone performance at Knoxville's Big Ears. On Blue Voices he plays alto and tenor saxophone, clarinet, electric piano, and organ. Walsh has been releasing music as Shy Layers since 2015, when he started self-releasing on Bandcamp; the following year, Germany's Growing Bin packaged his first two EPs as a self-titled album, and in 2018, Tim Sweeney's Beats in Space label put out Shy Layers' sophomore album, Midnight Marker. Where those records channeled Walsh's playful harmonic instincts into wistful songwriting with tropical overtones, on Blue Voices he lets his experimental tendencies take the lead. Playing acoustic and electric guitars, electric lap steel, bass, Moog Matriarch, modular synth, and programmed drums, he concentrates his energies on richly textural layers and abstract assemblages of tone color.
Across the album's 11 tracks, there are faint echoes of familiar touchstones: the atmospheric twang of Daniel Lanois' pedal steel on Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks; the mercurial modal runs of Ethio-jazz; the late-summer calm of Fuubutsushi; the versatility of players and composers like Patrick Shiroishi and Sam Gendel, who are asking similar questions about where jazz ends and some other, nameless territory begins. Mostly, though, what Blue Voices captures is the quixotic sound of two restless musical imaginations making it up as they go along, two voices discovering a shared language in a hitherto unexplored shade of blue.
|LP||Balmat: BALMAT08||in stock||€ 25,29|
|Also available @ D\G\T\L|