John Vanderslice

John Vanderslice

John Vanderslice

White Wilderness

Dead Oceans Records

I have never understood why John Vanderslice isn’t a bigger name in the music world. His songs are deceptively catchy and his soft voice lulls you into his world, much like that of Duncan Sheik (another under the radar singer/songwriter). Both artists do what they want and their music is better for it. Vanderslice’s latest is no exception, as he created what he calls The Magik*Magik Orchestra to make White Wilderness, a quasi-musical that will have you clamoring for more, even if it makes you a little uneasy.

The title track is a gorgeous piano-led ballad that creates some uneasy tension via severely dissonant chords scattered around the song, enough to make you sit up and pay attention. “The Piano Lesson” uses every bit of the orchestra with a saxophone taking the lead while the stringed instruments are plucked away. It’s quite refreshing.

Refreshing is exactly what this album is, even for fans of Vanderslice. White Wilderness was recorded in three days in his studio, a sharp departure from the constant recording and mixing he has done with previous albums. Vanderslice has added the most original album to date with this one. The Magik*Magik Orchestra takes a regular John Vanderslice album (which is great to begin with) and makes it, well, magical.

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