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 labelâ€™s in-house Brooklyn studio for a month to record Held in Splendor. Collaborating with producer and Woodsâ€™ co-member Jarvis Taveniere behind the board, Quilt created a layered album of eclectic, crafted, psychedelic-garage, folk-pop gems, while exhibiting the bandâ€™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 â€œArtic Shark,â€ 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 â€˜60s psychedelic pop, explored by everyone from The Beatles to SF Bay Area groups like The Jefferson Airplane. While the angular â€œEye of the Pearl,â€ led by Butler, provides an interesting counterpoint, informed from more contemporary UK pop influences, such as XTCâ€™s Colin Moulding songs or the early singles of Field Music. The graceful â€œJust Dust,â€ 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 â€œMary Mountainâ€ sounds as if theyâ€™ve concocted a beefed-up version of a â€™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 â€œTired and Butteredâ€ 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 Quiltâ€™s more free-wheeling songs reflect the bandâ€™s openness to â€œoutsiderâ€ folk, a wide swath that ranges from â€˜50s and â€˜60s folk fingerstyle pickers, pioneered by artists such John Fahey and Robbie Basho, to â€˜60s UK folk-rock acts like Fairport Convention and Bert Jansch. â€œThe Hollowâ€ best represents this culmination of influences, that includes the guest lap steel of young guitar phenom, Daniel Bachman (Bachmanâ€™s recent solo works, 2012â€™s Seven Pines and 2013â€™s Jesus Iâ€™m A Sinner are superb). â€œTaking Trainsâ€ 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 â€˜80s Paisley Underground and post-Paisley influences. â€œThe World Is Flat,â€ the sole instrumental, recalls the meandering fluidity of The Meat Puppetsâ€™ 1985 Under the Sun period. The hazy â€œSecondary Swanâ€ drifts in an imaginary area between David Roback and Kendra Smithâ€™s Opal and Robackâ€™s later project Mazzy Star.
Taveniere role as a producer appears to have expanded, especially from his behind-the-board duties for the Woodsâ€™ 2012 release, Bend Beyond, to Real Estateâ€™s Alex Bleeker and his excellent 2013 solo project, How Far Away. Itâ€™s a fairly clean, unadorned sound, allowing the bandâ€™s organic tone, while including the rough edges, to come through. So itâ€™s fortuitous that Quiltâ€™s ascending chops as songwriters and arrangers crossed with Taveniereâ€™s ability to get the best out of each band heâ€™s worked with.