, October 1st, 2009 06:05
A long-time member of New York's jamming folk gang, Samara Lubelski has previously lent her violin skills to producer and Ecstatic Peace label-owner Thurston Moore's solo efforts, bringing a cinematic sheen and Velvet Underground-style dirge to the Sonic Youth man's sugar-rush discord reverie.
So it's surprising to find that her fifth solo venture is so mellow. Past efforts mixed folk thrash and folk hush, yet Future Slip is melody-based and steadily down-tempo. From the opening of 'Culture King '66' you could mistake this for Charlotte Gainsbourg's 5:55. There's a gentle dub bass pulse and her psychedelic voice coos reflectively; her lines are short, each pause bringing expectation for the next. Elsewhere (as in 'New Age Slip') electric pianos and Hammond organs tinkle and growl, like a Weather Report song with the occasional playful duff note thrown in.
With Moore behind the mixing desk and SY sticksman Steve Shelly providing a series of drum breaks, Future Slip plays out an ongoing contrast between Lubelski's lulled vocals and ever tensing rhythms. Guitars can't help but crash in like bullies on each track, providing that anticipated smash. This process, though sometimes repetitive, adds character to the conventional folk song structures and methodologies. The contrast pulls and pushes your sympathies: sometimes the guitars get in the way of Lubelski's developing melodies, at other points you can't wait for them to tear the track up. The music itself is self-destructive too, with propulsive drum grooves again falling victim to the assembled percussion and guitar smash, destroying what's had been slowly building.
There are some wonderful highlights. 'The Evolution Flow' plays out picked guitar parts and feels like a Californian dusk, Lubelski's vocals stretching elastically, a strong chorus gently delivered with the smoky grace of a chanteuse. It's the album's most open and expansive moment and (unsurprisingly) the most stripped back arrangement; the bass matches and rumbles over a simple skip beat, all bluster removed. As it stops abruptly and the jangle of 'Future Hold' develops into a down-stroke thrash, the crescendo becomes a glorious, raging barrage of tense chords and dumb hooks; by the end it's developed into distorted mantra of flutes and noise.
Future Slip cleverly punctuates simple songs with intentionally destructive arrangements; the songs battle with themselves, leaving Lubelski either as a passive reciter of monotone melodies or, more sumptuously, singing with beauty when given the space.