W. W. Lowman
Having put in stints as backing musician for acts as diverse as Smog, Alasdair Roberts, Aluminum Group, and L’altra, W.W. Lowman has a hand in producing some of the best music the indie scene has had to offer in the ’00s. This supporting role has led Plain Songs’ gestation period of nearly three years, and while most acts could very easily lose the plot over that span of time, for Lowman it’s only widened his vision.
Lowman’s compositions are heavy on instrumental passages, where layers of different textured instruments vie for the dominant melody. On tracks like “Goodbye Greg,” the introductory jazzy sheen and constant ellipses of rhythm instantly recall post-rock luminary Tortoise, but as the song progresses an economy creeps in and extinguishes much of the sound aside from a sparse guitar line and tapping percussion. A slow bloom follows with a lonesome horn entering and mournful oohs from a hidden chorus. It ends up as a more direct line to Ennio Morricone’s sprawling, thematic scores than many of the other acts he’s influenced over the years.
Lowman also populates the disc with lyric numbers like “Tea Till Ten” and “Please Don’t Think It’s Funny,” which have a lazy, loose grandeur to them much like Appendix Out, International Airport, or Movietone. It’s a post-folk simplicity that’s equally charming and relaxing. Plain Songs exhibits such a casual mastery of all the genres it hits, we can only hope it doesn’t take another three years for Lowman to release its follow-up.