Music

Date Palms: The Dusted Sessions

This is music that creates its own geography, so while the title implies performance, this is stuff that feels more felt than played, more poured out than amplified and recorded.


Date Palms

The Dusted Sessions

US Release: 2013-06-11
UK Release: 2013-06-10
Label: Thrill Jockey
Amazon
iTunes

There's certainly some talking points leading into Date Palms' third record, The Dusted Sessions. The duo, Gregg Kowalsky and Marielle Jakobsons, added two new members in tanpura player Michael Elrod and guitarist Noah Phillips. And yes, you can hear the contributions of these new players in exciting ways here. But to talk about the players themselves, or even the instruments, references a physicality that seems foreign to Date Palms' sound.

In fact, the name of the album – The Dusted Sessions – with its reference to recording dates, to putting players in a room with mics and recording equipment to make this sound, it feels strange. To think of the walls of a studio is to think of a space that can't seem to contain the sounds on this record. These movements resist even that broad kind of constraint. The dust though is very much here, rolling out in billowing curls across the expanse of these sounds. This is music that creates its own geography, so while the title implies performance, this is stuff that feels more felt than played, more poured out than amplified and recorded.

The songs themselves seem to give us more fitting titles to reveal the album's intentions. Opening track "Yuba Source I" (it has a companion piece later in the record), puts all the players out there in tribute to the Yuba River, located in the Sacramento Valley. This is the music of wide-open spaces, but also of the river itself. Kowalsky's keyboards drift in the background in warm phrasings and swirling foundations, while Jakobsons' violin establishes the bittersweet melody, one of equal parts discovery and awe. The song grows over its 11-minute run time, and eventually Jacobsons' work bleeds into Phillips slicing guitar and the spacious twang of Elrod's tanpura. The song doesn't unravel but rather swells, flowing like the Yuba – one imagines – and while it repeats its themes, you're left with the feeling that, no matter when you come into the song, you're never stepping in the same river twice.

This is the kind of ambient but muscles instrumental music that has a kind of inevitability to it. Its success comes, often, not in surprising us with its size – because we already know the ambition of it – but rather in the sheer execution of it, in the precision of something that seems, on its surface, so imprecise. So you're impressed by the soaring groan of "Six Hands to the Light" or the dark swells of "Yuba Reprise", a shadow to the hazy light of "Yuba Source I". But while Date Palms do achieve that inevitability of size and sound that so much ambient and post-rock and drone music all go for, it does more than that.

Inside of that swelling size are some smack-in-the-face surprises, some hairpin turns in what feels like a straight and broad path. "Night Riding the Skyline" is the other big piece here, clocking in at nearly 12 minutes, but its feels like its own isolated piece. The guitars no longer groan, they pull on swampy blues riffs, and when the simple, shuffling beat kicks in to propel the sound forward – augmented by Kowalsky's skittering synth treatments – it's a revelation, a sort of industrial blues-rock meditation that turns the brightness of the first half of the record on its head, revealing the worry under all that discovery, the fear under all that wide-open freedom. So while you may feel the frustration mounting, you're still floored by the wall of distorted guitars that blow open "Dusted Down", the album's most frenzied performance. It's a final salvo of order, or emotion formed into bracing shape, before the equally effecting improvisation of the soft closer "Exodus Due West".

All these moments blend together seamlessly, and yet each feels significant and whole on its own. Despite the physical changes to the band, the physical title of the record, this is more than the sum of a recording session. The Dusted Sessions is a careful and wonderfully executed trip through two sides of discovery, through the sunburst of awe and the shadow it leaves behind – the search for meaning, the smallness of the individual in the world, the knowledge that what was once unknown is now known, different to you merely because you've seen it. These are complicate ideas of how we interact with our surroundings and why we seek out new ones. Date Palms capture those ideas brilliantly on this record, boring beautiful little holes in them along the way.

7
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".

Games

On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 1, Gang of Four to the Birthday Party

If we must #quarantine, at least give us some post-punk. This week we are revisiting the best post-punk albums of all-time and we kick things off with Gang of Four, Public Image Ltd., Throbbing Gristle, and more.

Music

Alison Chesley Toils in Human and Musical Connectivity on Helen Money's 'Atomic'

Chicago-based cellist, Alison Chesley (a.k.a. Helen Money) creates an utterly riveting listen from beginning to end on Atomic.

Music

That Kid's 'Crush' Is a Glittering Crossroads for E-Boy Music

That Kid's Crush stands out for its immediacy as a collection of light-hearted party music, but the project struggles with facelessness.

Books

Percival Everett's ​​​'Telephone​​​' Offers a Timely Lesson

Telephone provides a case study of a family dynamic shaken by illness, what can be controlled, and what must be accepted.

Reviews

Dream Pop's Ellis Wants to be 'Born Again'

Ellis' unhappiness serves as armor to protect her from despair on Born Again. It's better to be dejected than psychotic.

Music

Counterbalance No. 10: 'Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols'

The Spirit of ’77 abounds as Sex Pistols round out the Top Ten on the Big List. Counterbalance take a cheap holiday in other people’s misery. Right. Now.

Film

'Thor: Ragnarok' Destroys and Discards the Thor Mythos

Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok takes a refreshingly iconoclastic approach to Thor, throwing out the old, bringing in the new, and packaging the story in a colourful, gorgeously trashy aesthetic that perfectly captures the spirit of the comics.

Music

Alps 2 and Harry No Release Eclectic Single "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" (premiere)

Alps 2 and Harry NoSong's "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" is a dizzying mix of mangled 2-step rhythms and woozy tranquil electronics.

Music

Kathleen Grace and Larry Goldings Team for Wonderfully Sparse "Where Or When" (premiere)

Kathleen Grace and Larry Goldings' "Where Or When" is a wonderfully understated performance that walks the line between pop and jazz.

Music

Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.

Books

New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.

Music

Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.

Music

Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.

Music

New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.

Books

'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.

Music

Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.

Music

Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.

Music

M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.