Collaborative albums are few and far between. Or, I guess, at least the good ones are. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one, even as I’m stretching my legs, tempering my musical preferences with new experiences. I’m glad I went into this one with no real idea of what I was going to be listening to.
Because sometimes you get lucky. The vibes are just right.
Built on multi-instrumentalist and producer Juan Cosby’s sonic foundation, Cincinnati’s own Wonky Tonk lends her particularly well-suited vocal talents, while St. Louis’ Farout drops bars. Don’t bother picking them up. They’re heavy.
Filled to the hazy edges with luscious, vibrant synth, ALPENGLOW is as much a wink and a nod to a few very specific moments in music history, while also, somehow, remaining lazily untethered to anything so crude as linear time. It’s unruly and vibrant, with some of the most enjoyably weird arrangements I’ve heard in quite some time. At moments it evokes the soundtrack to a film like "Drive," Nicolas Winding Refn’s brutal LA love story. Then, in others, bands like Portishead and musicians like Tricky. Filtered through Cosby’s upbeat/offbeat/ aural lens, the album bounces around itself, vibes on vibes. A self-proclaimed “winter depression” album, the juxtaposition of energetic, flighty beats with Wonky Tonks ethereally produced vocal work and Farout’s impeccable flow, it’s a multi-layered experience.
Track 2, “Insomniac,” remains a standout after a few listens front to back. Impeccable work by Farout anchors that track to the bottom of the ocean. There’s no going back. “Do You” is driven to the cliff’s edge by an outrageous synth line and subtle choral work floating over everything.
As you make your way through the album, the concept of Winter Depression starts to seep into the mix. Tracks 7-10 are a four song run that really drive the idea home - from “Pitch Black” (which isn’t a ballad about Vin Diesel), to “Stranger,” vocals are wavy, compressed, contemplative and listless - no less sharp, but the edges start to blur even as the music slows down and settles into minor melancholy. About where we are right now, this odd January 2023, one supposes.
Album closer, “Your Daddy,” is a jangly, lyrically jarring way to bring these proceedings to an end. More everything - vocal layers, depth, obvious synth, reverb and somehow, acoustic guitars. A hell of a finale on a hell of an album.
Track this one down, folks. It’s available on Bandcamp right here, if that’s easier, though.