These extended hallucinatory excursions tap into drone, psyche, krautrock
and prog, layering dense salvos of guitar on rhythmic incantations. The
pieces are relatively simple a repetitive guitar pattern locked within a
single chord, a verse fragment, a fractalish dialogue between snare and
cymbal but they are combined in complex, almost round-like ways. That
they are pure improvisations, composed and performed entirely on the spot
(at The Space in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. during the summer and fall of 2004), makes Bright's fourth full-length album all the more impressive.
Bright is, at its core, a collaboration between multi-instrumentalists Mark
Dwinell and Joe LeBrecque. Dwinell is best known as a guitarist, though
he also plays bass and keyboards, and sings on various tracks of the
album. Similarly, LeBrecque's most important role may be as drummer, as
his regular beats may be the only tether holding these freewheeling
improvisations to recognizable structure, yet he also contributes acoustic
guitar, bass and keyboards. Other players (there are as many as three
different guitar players on a couple of tracks) add texture, depth and
complexity to these shape-shifting cuts.
Several of the cuts have vocals, repeated words that hang like a fog over
the dreamy contours of guitar. On the lovely "Flood," three separate
guitar players build a lattice work of picked blues-folk notes, while
Dwinell's abstract singing drifts above unruffled. "Manifest Harmony,"
sparser with just Dwinell and LeBrecque playing, constructs precise
geometries of progressive rock out of interlocking guitar lines, steady
rhythms and twining arabesques of singing. "Secret Form of Time" is one of
the album's most unusual tracks, a shimmering haze of piano, notes looped
on top of each other and overtones teeming and dense between them.
The title track is the clear highlight, a dense texture of scratchy
guitars, ethereal vocals and complex, jazz-tinged drumming. At more than
12 minutes in length, the piece maintains tension throughout, with new
sounds and ideas emerging out of the drone and old ones combined in complex
patterns. There's a sunny lift to this piece, as there is to the album as
a whole. It's like looking up through a thick, shifting forest canopy, the
light filtering through in ever-changing patterns. These compositions are
tranquil yet mind-engaging, repetitive enough to lull the listener into a
trance, but with challenges and sudden beauties hidden in the interstices.