Saltland - I Thought It Was Us But It Was All of Us [Constellation - 2013]
Saltland is the new solo project of Rebecca Foon, a cello player who has previously played with Esmerine, A Silver Mt. Zion, and Set Fire to Flames. Her first statement under this new name is a 38 minute LP titled "I Thought It Was Us But It Was All of Us", a lush and immediately imposing river of sombre art rock sound.
Listening to this album, it sounds very convincingly as if it was played by an entire band. No piece of the puzzle sounds undeveloped or overlooked; the drumming, for instance, is jazzy and natural, and perfectly provides a hypnotic pulse for the music to be structured around, as does the bass playing. No sound or layer is spared. She has found a perfect balance of rustic acoustic timbres and shimmery electronic loops and augmentation that to me indicates nature worship.
Foon's music has the cosmic world weary yearning and ever-building mantra repetitions of latter period Swans (specifically "White Light from the Mouth of Infinity"), and the psychedelic vastness of many krautrock bands. The effect is deeply emotive as the listener is swept from one grippingly visceral life experience to the next. Rebecca's cello playing, with a slippery, weeping sound, is at the stormy forefront.
The pieces are largely instrumental, shaped by the ebb and flow of their orchestrated energy. Rebecca's singing, when it does appear on 2 or 3 songs, is usually resigned and monotone, simply forming another layer of the patchwork and drawing little attention to itself. The album as a whole is a truly integrated experience that feels like a story, a campfire song, a windswept hillside landscape.
This is some of the greatest 'post rock' that has ever been created, in my opinion. More accessible and emotionally open than the original opuses of Swans and Godspeed, You Black Emperor, and breathtakingly good for many of the same reasons. I highly recommend this album to fans of any kind of music, and I'll certainly be investigating all of Rebecca Foon's past and future releases. Josh Landry