cott Herren returns to his Savath and Savalas guise for a new EP that continues the same sort of easy listening ambience that marked his debut, Folk Songs For Trains, Tree, and Honey. This time out, however, the beats are more upbeat and inviting compared to the downtempo and contemplative beats of Folk Songs.
Staring with “Rolls and Waves of Ignorance”, Herren produces a song based on a series of orchestral swells, a smooth saxophone, and a gently plucked bass. The song, which would not sound out of place on the previous LP, rises and falls gently as if the listener is once again being taken on a journey- and this is merely the precursor to the hidden gems lying ahead.
This promise is fulfilled on “Paths In Soft Focus”. Drawing in technique from his Prefuse73 project, Herren mixes washes of keyboard with a light hip hop beat and gently fluttering lines. The chord changes evoke a mood of hopefulness in the beginning- until near the end when a sense of foreboding is uncovered in the naked sounds of keyboard left with nothing to hold them up.
“Folk Song For Cello”, however, dissolves these ill feelings into a haze of cello, trumpet, and guitar. It’s a postmodern melding of elements that could easily have made this music before Herren’s sampling and mixing. Far from being tied to the juxtaposition that hip hop sometimes imposes on elements, however, the song mixes beautifully and sounds like it was recorded in a studio by actual musicians. Coming very close to sounding like a possible outtake from Air’s Moon Safari, the song ends with a vocal sample from a movie that, once again, that hints at an undercurrent of discomfort.
It is dispelled again by the almost fey instrumentation of “Decatur Queen”. The groove that the guitar, cello, and trumpet bring together builds up to a satisfying mid-song climax when Herren inserts an almost anthemic drum track. The song ends by slowly taking elements, leaving only a rhythmic clicking. It is the sound that helped bring in the track, and provided the rhythmic backing for most of the proceedings. It is also a wink to the way that these tracks have been constructed- one element at a time, in an almost perfect patische.
The short EP ends in much the same way that it started with a track called “Rolls and Waves of Acknowledgement”. The rolls and the waves are very similar, with the adjoining sound effects being somewhat different, but not significantly so.
On this EP, Herren has presented two bookends to three well constructed tracks that evoke the same sort of mental images that Folk Songs For Trains, Tree, and Honey did. The main difference in construction is a few years more experience- and more complex songs. If this is Herren is honing his craft, then I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.