Radish is the second album by Brooklynite Nathan Phillips’s Big Bend. Here you find layers of guitar and piano combining with electronics, processing, backward effects and a mournful sheen, designed to evoke the inexorable passing of time and the development – then eventual collapse – of memories.
While it’s not necessarily an album in which you can identity much joy, the inclusion of vocals from Phillips’s mother on tracks like ‘Swinging Low’ creates a wistful, almost folksy contrast with some of the other pieces, her voice having a clarion quality that glides effortlessly over her son’s inventive musical tapestry.
‘1000 Ways’ and ‘Long Time’ are complex, tightly-woven pieces full of heartbreaking emotion, supported by an accompanying architecture of noisy, unpredictable sounds, while reversed guitar, meditative piano and a restless vari-speed synth loop allows ‘12’ – 15’’ to convey just as much as Phillips’s haunting vocal tracks.
The album’s central piece is ‘Can’t Get Around’, wherein whining guitar is blended with a vocal processed into pure texture; the track has a post-rocky, dubbiness where Phillips’s vocal seems to bespeak of everything from lethargy to demotivation to emotional helplessness. Even when the track approaches a sort of resigned euphoria, it is still fully laden with tension.
Radish by Big Bend was released by Ohie Records on May 10 2019.
Words: Mat Smith
(c) 2019 Further.