Trent Reznor brought new visibility to experimental music through The Social Network soundtrack. Andasol lies beyond classification but continues in this new tradition. Portland-based Ash Black Bufflo (aka Jay Clarke) creates a moody eighteen track soundscape that compels the listener from the beginning, and continues to be solid until the end. The minimalist inspired “Misery is the Pilgrims Pasture” is a highlight, containing the musical elements that recur throughout the rest of the work. It provokes the keen sense of balance and movement to which the whole album aspires. Clarke is to be commended for taking inspiration from a wide range of contemporary Minimalist composers, while accessibly reaching forward into experimental territory. The vibes, claps, and human voices that swirl throughout tracks like “Ring Shout Step” and “Go ‘way Old Ghosts” attest to the influence of Steve Reich and Philip Glass. Less melodic tracks are couched in loop tape experiments and avante-garde sounds akin to Moondog. The only weakness in Andasol is the loose narrative structure, which has an overly fragmented mix-tape feel. Ash Black Bufflo is reaching beyond post-rock and it will be exciting to hear how Clarke hones his craft in future releases. Highly recommended for an overcast summer evening.
// Notes from the Road
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