Label: Yeggs Records, 2019
Personnel - Dave Harrington: guitar, bass, synth, pedal steel, electronics; Lars Horntveth: electric piano, string synth; Will Shore: vibraphone; Jake Falby: violin; Andrew Fox: keyboards, synth, electronics; Samer Ghadry: drums.
Listening to Dave Harrington Group can be a challenging assignment, especially for the ones who like everything neat and arranged with a sense of anticipation. On his latest effort, Pure Imagination, No Country, Harrington, who is an experimental multi-instrumentalist with a predilection for guitar, is accompanied by Will Shore on vibraphone, Andrew Fox on keyboards and electronics, Samer Ghadry on drums, Jake Falby on violin, and Lars Horntveth, a Norwegian multi-instrumentalist and one of the main songwriters of experimental jazz group Jaga Jazzist. This release finds them melding rock, jazz and electronic music with a gut-feeling that reflects our current times.
The short overture, “Well”, has the band diving headfirst into psychedelic rock. It presents a thoroughly crafted drumbeat, pretty active bass lines with some dirtiness surrounding them, and multicolored vibes. Hooked in the drumming showcase of Ghadry, “Belgrade Fever” intermingles the melodicism of Pink Floyd’s early years and the persistent krautrock-like atmosphere of Can. However, it was “Then I Woke Up” that quickly conquered my ear due to the gripping aesthetic of distorted guitars, dance-rock drumming, and consolidated electronics. The synth bass keeps this pop/rock circularity running as we hear sonic pollution covering the canvas in a progressive direction. The band makes atmospheric stops along the way, spreading some mystery in the air by way of a long-standing thrum.
“Slides Redux” purges a giddy, paranoid sonority before brooding synth chords and searing guitar lines take over. Conversely, “Neoarctic Organs” is a slow-core exercise with some ethereal flights and a crescendo that terminates brusquely.
The group sets “Patch One”, the longest track on the record, with some doses of abstraction, proposing an unsettling murk. Percussive punches and cymbal splashes are a constant in a relentless exercise that feels feathery on one hand and heavy on the other. From midway through, a jazzy pulse meets the noise rock, thickening up the texture and reminiscing some works of The Cinematic Orchestra.
Counter-parting the more experimental flux of the album, which Harrington admits inspired by Miles Davis’ electric years, “Pure Imagination” works like redemption with its beautiful country/folk orientation. There’s something profound and special in this particular dreamlike ambience, which closes out the album like an act of emancipation.
Harrington, who has the capacity of sustaining a wealth of moods while building hypnotic tension, has a fine album here.
04 - Then I Woke Up ► 07 - Patch One ► 09 - Pure Imagination