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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bryce Isbell: SELF-TITLED (2007)

I’m divided as to whether or not I want to fall asleep listening to Bryce Isbell’s SELF-TITLED release. On one hand I might have nightmares listening to this surreal landscape that comes mercilessly soaring into your ears, but on the other hand I could be enlightened by its beauty, if I brave the journey. Bryce Isbell is an incredibly prolific musician from Denton, Texas who has probably put out more than four releases this year. SELF-TITLED is self-released (available for free on his Myspace) and again, I stress, be prepared to find yourself in a world where the normal rules of physics no longer apply. The song “Skulls And Other Things We Use To Decorate” starts out with a simple guitar plucking and a hum, slowly absorbing your thoughts in this bleached desert. It’s hot and dusty, but near the end we can hear a whistle far off in the distance. There is a hope for some water, an oasis. “Spirit Songs” is a like a travelogue that starts as a whisper, roars up and then goes insane. Isbell moans incoherently hitting beautiful notes, almost a hymnal, and then the landscape changes. Suddenly, we find ourselves in a swamp, the rain pouring down and voices moaning around us, these ghosts summoning Isbell forth. He cackles and laughs, “ba ba ba-ing” like the best of them, but with a menace. “Telluride, Colorado” is the song that will make me brave sleep with this album. The albums closer sounds as if we are drifting through a vast cave, the harp-like guitar strings bouncing off the walls illuminating the darkness. Isbell’s voice gets almost operatic as the song builds, but it only goes so far before the guitar comes back, folksy, familiar; he is leading us back home safe and sound, but a bit stronger and more in tune with our senses. However, we aren’t out of the woods yet; tree limbs snap all around us before fading back into the night. Words cannot accurately describe SELF-TITLED, even Isbell refuses to say too much, but with the music you’ll drift, race and tumble through a surreal world where anything is possible.

Bryce Isbell-"Spirit Songs"

Bryce Isbell on myspace

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