Music

Hayden Pedigo Delves Deeper Into the Elemental on 'Valley of the Sun'

Photo: Driftless Recordings

Hayden Pedigo's fifth LP, Valley of the Sun, raises the courage to return to an even cleaner form of the fundamentals he's proven so adept at

Valley of the Sun
Hayden Pedigo

Driftless

19 April 2019

Hayden Pedigo's music has, in the past, focused on a sifting of time, seemingly acknowledging a collective yearning for different paces and structures. Last year's Greetings from Amarillo thrives on this desert dusted neo-primitivism. Valley of the Sun, however, threatens to make peace with this desire by peeking around corners and wearing away the shadows.

Pedigo's fifth LP raises the courage to return to an even cleaner form of the fundamentals he's proven so adept at. Turning to echoes, empty spaces and found sound, Valley of the Sun revels more than it yearns. Where tracks like "Horns" and "Brother" present an excellent guitarist gently succumbing to successful patterns, "Mill" and "Channel" do just the opposite, opening the record up to restless experimentations.

A four-and-a-half minute psychological horror-drone, "Mill" at first carries something jarring and unexpected. It isn't until we're relieved by the jangly pop riffs of "Glider" that its full drift takes effect. Mixed and muddled, Pedigo gathers listeners to an almost unbearable height before the break arrives. We can take a breath and move along, kept present without force or conscious attempt. This is less calculating than it is perceptive.

Though not usually one for synesthesia, Valley of the Sun is composed of shapes, blunt and sharp, a stark contrast to the clouded wisps of Pedigo's previous releases. The jagged geometry of "Channel" pulls and stretches, winding in and out of feverish anxiety. Haunting voice samples blend with dreamlike reverberations and, all at once, the margins have disappeared. This boundary-bending follows through to the listeners' experience of Valley of the Sun, which effortlessly meets with the environment rather than pulses through it.

Rather than the John Fahey-era acoustic meanderings that Pedigo's work has so heavily been compared to, dropped prematurely in contemporary cosmic American pools, Valley of the Sun would be better suited to the leagues of Chicago's Patient Sounds. Like M. Sage and his hallucinatory wanderings, or even Basinski's Disintegration Loops, Pedigo's newest work is the result of a pride-less searching. To reduce the record to a simple modern-day rendering of American primitivism is to lose grasp of the thread that winds quietly throughout the record.

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