Quilt Will Have You Held In Splendor


Music Held in Splendor, QUILT (Mexican Summer)

Oddly, Held in Splendor the sophomore release by the Boston-based band Quilt is more of an organic recording than its lo-fi, psychedelic pop debut. The 2011 self-titled predecessor was a document of a promising band forming its identity. During its recording, the band experienced a band member drifting out (percussionist and vocalist Taylor Mcvay), while simultaneously having another band member drifting in (percussionist and vocalist John Andrews).

With co-leaders Anna Fox Rochinski and Shane Butler, the trio, after some solid touring, literally camped out at its label’s in-house Brooklyn studio for a month to record Held in Splendor. Collaborating with producer and Woods’ co-member Jarvis Taveniere behind the board, Quilt created a layered album of eclectic, crafted, psychedelic-garage, folk-pop gems, while exhibiting the band’s eyebrow-raising growth as a unit.

For Held in Splendor, Quilt tap into an eclectic tapestry of psychedelic influences.

From the get-go, the sensually spiraling “Artic Shark,” there is an immediate impact to a fuller, fleshed-out sound and craft. The Rochinski-led opening track leans toward the Middle-Eastern touches embedded in ‘60s psychedelic pop, explored by everyone from The Beatles to SF Bay Area groups like The Jefferson Airplane. While the angular “Eye of the Pearl,” led by Butler, provides an interesting counterpoint, informed from more contemporary UK pop influences, such as XTC’s Colin Moulding songs or the early singles of Field Music. The graceful “Just Dust,” shaped by the elegant vocal melody executed by Rochinski and a sparse arrangement, reaches a synthesis of sorts and finds a distinct identity.

Quilt can crank it up as well. The garage-pop of “Mary Mountain” sounds as if they’ve concocted a beefed-up version of a ’60s nugget from someone like Clefs of Lavender Hill, rather than Love or The Chocolate Watchband. Within the song, there are surprising compositional changes; in fact, there are no real straight-ahead type songs that exist in Held in Splendor. The jangle-driven “Tired and Buttered” jugs at a good highway speed, aided by a healthy screaming Farfisa (or tweaked-out organ), then takes a surprise psych-break turn, before resuming to its highway speed again.


Some of Quilt’s more free-wheeling songs reflect the band’s openness to “outsider” folk, a wide swath that ranges from ‘50s and ‘60s folk fingerstyle pickers, pioneered by artists such John Fahey and Robbie Basho, to ‘60s UK folk-rock acts like Fairport Convention and Bert Jansch. “The Hollow” best represents this culmination of influences, that includes the guest lap steel of young guitar phenom, Daniel Bachman (Bachman’s recent solo works, 2012’s Seven Pines and 2013’s Jesus I’m A Sinner are superb). “Taking Trains” quickly propels with a raw, yet bright, acoustic guitar rhythm, closing with a subtle Richard Thompson-like riff.

Then there are wafts of the southern Californian ‘80s Paisley Underground and post-Paisley influences. “The World Is Flat,” the sole instrumental, recalls the meandering fluidity of The Meat Puppets’ 1985 Under the Sun period. The hazy “Secondary Swan” drifts in an imaginary area between David Roback and Kendra Smith’s Opal and Roback’s later project Mazzy Star.

Taveniere role as a producer appears to have expanded, especially from his behind-the-board duties for the Woods’ 2012 release, Bend Beyond, to Real Estate’s Alex Bleeker and his excellent 2013 solo project, How Far Away. It’s a fairly clean, unadorned sound, allowing the band’s organic tone, while including the rough edges, to come through. So it’s fortuitous that Quilt’s ascending chops as songwriters and arrangers crossed with Taveniere’s ability to get the best out of each band he’s worked with.