Shedding: Tear in the Sun

In one sense, it's been four long years since Connor Bell's last Shedding album, 2006's What God Doesn't Bless, You Won't Love; What You Don't Love, The Child Won't Know November , but, in fact, its follow-up, Tear In The Sun, was written and recorded only a year later, though it's only now being issued in a limited-edition run of 500 red vinyl LPs. Listeners familiar with his work will already know that the Louisville, Kentucky-based producer works according to his own timeline, rather than the one to which regular earthlings adhere. The material on the new album could have come into being in 1970 or 1990 as easily as today, so era-transcending are the album's Eastern-tinged harmonium drones. Sunblinded and meditative, the album weaves numerous strands into its thirty-eight-minute sound-world, including the aforementioned drones plus kosmische musik and even a few dollops of folktronica.

A narrative of sorts is intimated by the one-word track titles (“Disconnect,” “Perspective,” “Idealize,” “Cauterize,” “Suffocate,” and “Incineration”) that suggests a man disconnecting from the world in order to step back and take stock, only to be consumed within an eventual immolation. That trajectory is echoed in the musical material: after “Disconnect” establishes the album's tone with the wheeze of a slow harmonium drone whose lulling, even lullaby quality is enhanced by Bell's entrancing vocal lines (Tear In The Sun is the first time, it turns out, that his voice has appeared on a Shedding release), the swollen electronic pulsations of “Perspective” suggest someone caught up in contemplation. The peaceful “Idealize” then draws bucolic acoustic picking into its kosmische musik orbit, after which “Cauterize” rises and falls like a sleeping body until Bell's voice appears, softly musing upon a tale of death and transfiguration (“He walked into the burning sun … He walked into the blinding light...”). The album closes with the ambient vignette “Suffocate” and one final meditation, “Incineration,” where the modulating warble of a deep harmonium drone grows progressively more psychedelic as the protagonist in questions leaves terra firma for astral parts unknown. Not surprisingly, Tear In The Sun ends up being as trippy and idiosyncratic a listen as anything else in the Shedding catalogue.

January 2011