Songs From a Mean Season
Perpetual Motion Machine
One of my all-time favorite bands, Knife in the Water, were once labeled “space country” by a member of the British press and while their darkened palette of outlaw music was certainly made transcendent with the reliance on reverb and pedal steel, they don’t fit the bill nearly as well as Tulsa Drone. This group’s rustic ramble follows familiar pathways and dusty trails like any number of instrumental outfits, but their sound is tinted with a solar energy rarely found elsewhere. Much of this is thanks to, again, guitar effects that add a shimmering, quavering quality to the chiming notes, but Tulsa Drone lean heavily on the underused dulcimer throughout the ten tracks that make up Songs From a Mean Season. It provides the disc with a wonderfully loose and exotic texture, not necessarily evocative of a planetarium’s light show, but more in line with the cavernous echo associated with sci-fi’s huge, desolate space freighters. Of course, the band doesn’t simply plod along on its relative innovation, but keeps things lively as on “Risk Guitar” which could be The Velvet Underground’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties” force-fed through a reaper and bound together as a dusky campfire ode, or the slow, fuzzy three chord psychedelica of “Huntsman.”
The group keeps the vocals to a minimum, only supplying them for two tracks. The first, “The Plague,” sees Erik Grotz’s deep intonation fit alongside Leonard Cohen and any number of melancholy-inflicted troubadours, while the second is a little more contemporary, recalling Paul Banks from Interpol if that band truly ever forsook the stultifying air of the city for a night of southern August humidity. It’s not exactly music for summer revelry, but it’s destined to speak volumes when heard in the inevitable pre-autumn comedown.
Perpetual Motion Machine: www.theperpetualmotionmachine.com