Local trio Selbyville recently released a lovely double CD package via their new imprint, Tea First Records. Over the course of these two discs (and believe me, they’re packed with sound) Artie Fischer, Derek Kimball and Michael Kamin display true musical diversity and a deep desire to explore highly-experimental territory.
“Quiet Until the Thaw” is a sprawling world unto its own, where warm but wintry electronic tones and 21st century nylon-string acoustic compositions butt up against each other. Closing track “Until Dark” is a highlight, featuring sparse finger-picked guitar work and the adorable, yet haunting, chants of children.
I’ve seen Selbyville play twice now, and both times they’ve run into technical difficulties with the vast network of pedals, wires and keyboards that they employ onstage. In a live setting this is all part of the sense of risk, and the potential for disaster, that can make performance so absorbing.
On the record, all of these finger-crossing moments are traded for one long continuous atmosphere of calm introspection. Unfortunately, some of the wildly rich electronic textures Selbyville summons in concert lost something in translation from stage to album. In listening to “Quiet…” I found myself recalling memories of the true tones produced by Shaw’s keyboard as the recorded versions came through my headphones.
This is not to say, however, that Selbyville has created a poorly produced release. The second disc, “The Plumpuddinger’s Voyage” is mostly composed of jaw-dropping post-minimal pieces for classical guitar (think Philip Glass writing folk melodies) that readily restore the warmth and depth that passages of “Quiet…” lack. These pieces unfold in layers, and conclude the release on the same powerfully cinematic and soothing note that it began on. For fans of adventurous instrumental music, this one’s a winner.