The PhiLL(er)

Choral Cover

Thrill Jockey Records

This album opens with the beguiling title track, a wonderfully simple melody—or maybe it's only half a melody—brought to life through equally wonderful and simple textured layers. A lot of layers. Basically, it fulfills the expectation you might have if, say, you picked up a CD with JS Bach's name as composer and "Choral" as title: it's not exactly baroque, but it relies on a simple structure and—maybe in the way the melody is a half melody—a half-fugue (or, uh, fugue-like) repetition to create its nuance and beauty. The layers give way in the closing moments of the song to an equally simple, and deliberate, acoustic guitar riff that repeats itself only as much as necessary.

That acoustic guitar creates the link to the second track, "Map Table", which, built around the guitar, creates a different kind of introspective and delicate atmosphere to the opener, but without seeming to have strayed far from the delicateness (create your own pun on delicacy here) and tone that "Choral" sets. The whole album unfolds like this, moving outward in different directions, but keeping one foot planted in the same place. Or maybe not a foot, but the music seems to be on a tether, so that no matter where it stretches, it always sounds grounded in that tone, in that simple chord progression or melody. In fact, the real glory of this album is that without ever raising the stakes much above calm and contented it creates languorous, intricate, spacious, thoughtful and downright wonderful pieces of music that, helped by titles such as "Telescope" and "Add Infinity", seem to spool out from the peaks and sprawl across the heavens.