Original image by Amelia Bauer.
DANIEL ROSSEN - YOU BELONG THERE
ALBUM REVIEW BY MILKY JOE
WARP RECORDS 2022
Full transparency – I am a Grizzly Bear fan. Initially, I couldn't see what the fuss was about. In 2009, I took Veckatimest home and played it on repeat for most of a day. By about the eighth time around, I finally got it and have been a huge fan ever since. Now, I consider Daniel Rossen to be a bit of a visionary. So, I was excited and a little apprehensive to listen to his first record (apart from a 2018 RSD single 'Deerslayer') since Grizzly Bear's 2017 release 'Painted Ruins'.
Daniel Rossen made a surprising recent announcement to 'give it a few listens before making up your mind', which is an odd request for a musician to say about his new record, but I totally understood. His compositions can be challenging with often complex arrangements that may require deep listening to appreciate. However, the diligent are well rewarded. For example, 'I'll Wait For Your Visit', with its constantly shifting arrangement for piano, guitar, woodwind and vocals, requires attention to fully reveal its lovely intricacies.
To a certain degree the groundwork was laid for this record on Rossen's excellent 2012 EP, Silent Hour/Golden Mile, on which he created huge vistas of sound from a ringing reverb laden 12 string guitar.
Here, his approach is more refined and stylistically more diverse, not only featuring lovely chamber pop with woodwind, cello and string arrangements but also a free jazz aesthetic, featuring stand up bass, floating piano and Chris Bear's rolling drums, as on the outstanding 'Keeper and Kin' while the harmonies heard on 'Shadow In the Frame' harken back to Rossen's earlier Department of Eagles days.
Most of these compositions could have been Grizzly Bear songs, and it's an intriguing thought what that would have sounded like. So, what's the difference between this and a Grizzly Bear album? Lots, as it happens.........
First off, while Chris Bear does play drums, there's the obvious absence of Chris Taylor's instrumentation and of Ed Droste, with his fine tuned pop sensibilities. Instead, we get to experience Daniel Rossen's vision unfettered and, as it turns out, it's a uniquely beautiful, intriguing and very finely tuned world to spend time in. Secondly, and perhaps surprisingly, absent is his distinctive and much loved noisy, angular electric guitar. Instead, Rossen's highly accomplished acoustic guitar features - multi tracked and finger picked in the Americana style forged by guitarists such as John Fahey and Robbie Basho, with the odd additional flourish of Spanish guitar.
Lastly, the cryptic and inscrutable lyrics of Rossen's Grizzly Bear songs (I know someone who counts 'Central and Remote' from 'Yellow House' among his favourite songs, but he has absolutely no idea what its about!) are here absent, with these songs, about Rossen's own life and its challenges, far more open to listener interpretation, while the vocal performance of these songs, in Daniel Rossen's distinctive singing style, possibly represent the only equivalent to Grizzly Bear.
So, take this as a heads up! It would be easy to overlook this record, and I strongly recommend following Daniel Rossen's advice to dive in for a deep listen or two. This is a standout release – a brilliant collection of lovingly crafted sonic gems from a visionary artist that get better the more they are listened to and offer an inspiring vision to move on with – 'Run to a vast and open world'.
A2. Shadow in the Frame
A3. You Belong There
A4. Unpeopled Space
B2. I'll Wait For Your Visit
B3. Keeper and Kin
B4. The Last One
B5. Repeat the Pattern