Carter Tanton


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Carter Tanton's shift back from group work in Tulsa to his own work for the release of Freeclouds seems to be fully front-loaded in the sound of the album as much as any particular moniker. The cryptic touches of a lush, flecks-of-classic-4AD background in Tulsa's earlier work transforms here into a crisper, more self-consciously live feeling with the opening "Murderous Joy," acoustic guitars and a break with a classic feeling of glam rock descend to it all backing Tanton's yearning singing. But the immediately following "Fake Pretend," a collaboration with Marissa Nadler, takes a turn toward shimmering electronic/shoegaze feedback and beats, showing that Freeclouds has a little more up its sleeve than either a clear break from Tanton's past or a simple extension of it. The sense of casual free play of styles continues throughout; if Tanton has a familiar anchor and approach at the center, with his singing calling to mind a less fraught and (and much less insufferable) Richard Ashcroft, he puts in some enjoyable variations. He also might be the first performer who equally values Slowdive and, given the sound of "Saturday," Mojave 3, all while at the same time showing an appreciation for the politer side of beats not far removed from where the School of Seven Bells are at, as "Land Lines" demonstrates. A sense of kaleidoscopic approach emerges all the more throughout, whether "Horrorscope"'s twist on surging arena indie mixed with just a bit of full-on metal riffing or the slow crackling lope of "Pasture Sound" suggesting -- at a slight remove -- both the distant fragility of Hood and an earlier generation's folk via James Taylor. Then there's the genius touch of calling one song, a bit of roughed-up motorik with an acoustic guitar lead, "Gauze of Song," not to mention the specific invocation of David Bowie's early song "The Wild Eyed Boy from Freecloud" at the start of the album's concluding track, "Pitch Bent Flute."

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