Date Palms

The Dusted Sessions

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Bay Area unit Date Palms spent the earlier part of their existence as a duo, uncoiling their mellow psychedelic ruminations in long patient strands of synthesizer textures and organic washes of violin, harp, and flute. For third album The Dusted Sessions, the original duo of Gregg Kowalsky and Marielle Jakobsons expanded to include bassist Ben Bracken, tanpura player Michael Elrod, and guitarist Noah Phillips, ornamenting an already rich sound with new layers of subtleties and restrained playing. While Date Palms were always good at not veering into territory that was too soupy or blissed-out, the balance of patient playing and skillfully arranged cosmic exploration reaches transcendent heights on this album's seven lengthy pieces. Never having included guitar on previous albums, the instrument sticks out immediately on album opener "Yuba Source, Pt. 1," as both distorted leads and understated pedal steel playing augment the repetitive mantra-like melodic progressions. All instruments here have a way of melting in and out of each other, firmly rooted by the steady amble of the bass, floating synth, and noisier vamps washing up like waves onto shore. Over the course of this drifty album the synthesis of electronics (sometimes brittle, sometimes warm and honeyed), sprawling Middle Eastern-flavored tanpura drones, and unprocessed organic instruments evokes the most wandering aspects of acts as divergent as Popol Vuh, Alice Coltrane, and the Dirty Three. Album centerpiece "Night Riding the Skyline" incorporates echo-drenched drum machine into its filmic middle section, pushing the album into the same humid cinematic places as Tangerine Dream's swarthiest mid-'80s soundtrack work. By the gorgeously spare album closer "Exodus Due West," The Dusted Sessions has silently, carefully taken the listener through a barrage of landscapes, some interstellar and some earthly. The dusky flute and steadfast bass take care to set us back down on our feet as a bubbly synth bays like a hungry hound in the distance and twilight fades peacefully into night.

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