Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cursillistas – Observe Ember Weeks (L’animaux Tryst, 2012)

Cursillistas – Observe Ember Weeks
L’animaux Tryst 2012

Cursillistas was a psych folk project headed by Matt Lajoie (and often with the help of Dawn Marna and others) based in Portland Maine. Lajoie and co.’s efforts have more recently manifested themselves into a new band called Herbcraft, releasing a couple albums on the Woodsist imprint Hello Sunshine. Observe Ember Weeks is Cursillistas’ last studio album, written and recorded around the time they were working on their other releases for Digitalis.

“Lake Dig Rising (Muddy Water Spell)” is composed of classic Cursillistas reverb drenched guitar drones and vocals supported by tambourine hits. Lajoie’s vocals mimic the guitar drones, chanting elongated lyrics in a raga-esque kind of fashion. It’s this unique kind of smoky atmosphere specific to Cursillistas production that I often enjoy. “Bed of Weeds” is another great piece, though it is more melodic, featuring layers of picking acoustic guitars. The background vocals sound like a looping “oo” and have quite an enchanting quality. “Frontier Gothic” actually does have a more “gothic” sound, perhaps due in large part to the progression of the melody. The song is also more upbeat and rocking, backed by a minimal tom-crash drum set. “New Seeds” is a more ambient, drone piece backed by drums, bells, and singing bowls. The bowls create very a nice, low resonance. Throughout the album Cursillistas wavers in a nice place between droning ambience and more melodic progressions. “Bona Dea” might be a good example of this juxtaposition, consisting of endlessly repeating guitar hooks, hypnotic rhythms, and chanting vocals. “Saudade” immediately drew me in because I’m such a sucker for polyrhythmic clapping. Joined by blues-y, acoustic guitar twang and, by now, well known vocals, it makes for a pretty enjoyable listen.

LP for purchase:

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