CASS McCOMBS – ” Tip Of The Sphere “

Posted: February 8, 2019 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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A long-loved love child of the 4AD-Domino constellation, heart throbbing Californian songwriter Cass McCombs rocks up to Anti- (sister label to Epitaph), continuing his streaking succession of albums with “Tip Of The Sphere”. Providing a ninth solo LP in total, this latest record keeps up with guitarry-and-garrish themes of Mangy Love (2016), however richly purporting melodic songs that paint wheatgrass imagery of stretching plains, distant cross roads, and beachside trails to the rivermouth. With fingerpicking expertise to reflect both John Fahey (and Chris Isaak in parts) jangly pianos from a far western saloon making their way into “Absentee”, alongside a pinch of Neil Young’s soul (“Prayer For Another Day’) . With flashes of Alan Vega and Martin Rev to be heard in “American Canyon Sutra” too, to more hippy Buddha Bar vibes in “Real Life” thanks to them tablas,

Tip Of The Sphere follows 2016’s Mangy Love, which was named a “Best Rock Album Of The Year” by Pitchfork. While most of McCombs albums have been pieced together in different studios over an extended period, Tip Of The Sphere was recorded quickly and with a strong sense of purpose at Shahzad Ismaily’s Figure 8 Studios in Brooklyn. This new approach for McCombs brought his songs a raw immediacy and a special balance of compassion and experimentation with the intent of making a more consistent statement. The rock songs have more fervor, the ballads are more beautiful, the explorations more confident; the sounds of jazz and Latin music creep in through the back window. The thematic centerpiece, “Sleeping Volcanoes,” is a rousing, rock and roll number that uses a distinct lyrical approach to intensify the narrative. On the main refrain, a key phrase of the song is repeated continuously and taken through its possible meanings, almost like a jazz musician repeating a musical phrase through key and chord changes.

As described by McCombs, “Sleeping Volcanoes” is about “people passing each other on the sidewalk unaware of the emotional volatility they are brushing past, like a sleeping volcano that could erupt at any moment.” [Deluxe LP comes in an embossed cover and features three bonus tracks, a poster and a ‘Castillo de la Esfera’ created by fellow Northern California artist and contemporary Tahiti Pehrson as an homage to Brion Gysin’s dream machine. When the ‘Castillo de la Esfera’ is placed on top of the record player, and as the record is played (with or without a lightbulb cantilevered in the center), thoughts are encouraged to wander.

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