Well, this is Vetiver alright but with a cast unexpectedly huge, numbering +/- 20 sessioneers. The CD starts lushly in a soft-rock / folk vein amid droning tanpura background (or so it seems, though no such instrument is credited) with tabla or mrdingam-esque percussion giving a slow raga accompaniment. This flows into a more insistent but equally pacific and expansive milieu in You May be Blue peppered with the occasional sharp emphasis of beat and pulseline. The guitar work, Devendra Banhart wielding one, though simple and restrained, is sparkling.
To Find Me Gone is a collation of Donovan, faint touches of prime period Traffic, Nick Drake (it's amazing to hear how much an influence he's become with the last generation), McKendree Spring, Matthews Southern Comfort, and a few names I can't quite determine hidden away in a hypnotically slo-grooving succession of songs. I Know No Pardon has greatly mellowed-out Band aspects, traces of Robbie Robertson's composing wont making little tell-tales hither and yon. When the organ subtly enters, later joined by a dual guitar lead upsurge, it's apparent how much thought was expended to craft a tune drawing the listener irresistibly in, caught in a repeating pattern that isn't fully appreciated until you've gone under for the third time, flowing effortlessly. Most of the songs, many of them long, have the most satisfying rhythms, sinuously caressive, organically irresistible, and in fact addicting, but I'll warn the listener to buckle in for the second half of Red Lantern Girls, as it's completely unexpected…but superbly turned.
Music like this, one realizes after orienting to its many redirected virtues, is the new face of folk and a damn good thing, too, as many of us have been waiting to see just what was going to happen to this esteemed genre. Vetiver revealed a lot of their influences with the fetchingly tributary Thing of the Past (reviewed here) but that didn't give the proper insight into just how loquacious the group is in its own right, with its own materials. Now listed in Wikipedia among a gatherum of bands in what's apparently now dubbed 'weird rock' or 'weird folk', this shifting ensemble, based in Andy Cabic but as amorphous as a jellyfish, is as important to the moment as the 60s folkies were to the genre itself. Should the rest of the splinter heed To Find Me Gone and a few other releases that are actually seminal, it'll be a very interesting experiment indeed.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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