If you're a jazz fan whose taste skews toward '70s ECM albums, post-rock bands like Tortoise, and contemporary guitar mavericks like Marc Ribot, Bill Frisell, and Nels Cline, then you should check out Typical Sisters. The Chicago trio, which consists of longtime associates guitarist Gregory Uhlmann, bassist Clark Sommers, and drummer Matt Carroll, first showcased their dichotomously expansive yet intimate sound on their self-titled 2016 debut. With their sophomore album, 2019's Hungry Ghost, they further develop their approach, applying subtle post-production flourishes that ingeniously illuminate their broad creativity and genre-bending aesthetic. This is instrumental, improvisational music that deftly straddles the line between progressive jazz and experimental rock while firmly establishing the trio's own strong musical identity. Notably, one of the group's early shared influences was Joni Mitchell's scopic, jazz-influenced 1976 album Hejira. You can definitely here a similarly hushed and mutative songwriting sense on Hungry Ghost; one that constantly works to balance folky lyricism with elastic improvisation. Cuts like "To the Landing" and "The Comeback Kid" reveal the group's knack for moody, spacy grooves that bring to mind an eyebrow-raising mix of Can's avant-garde Krautrock and Pat Metheny's smooth fusion. Elsewhere, Typical Sisters achieve an even more evocative tone. "The Benjamin" has a rootsy Americana vibe that starts with what sounds like a hushed banjo played against the otherworldly hum of a UFO, but is most likely a guitar and a bowed-bass harmonic. Equally cinematic, the slow-burn "Pink," with its dusky, minor-toned twang, evokes images of purple desert twilight. There's also an underlying sense of psychedelic, genre-mashing exploration on Hungry Ghost. "Portrait of a Fast Moving Object" begins as a measured, rootsy waltz before ascending into a prismatic space raga. Similarly, "Excavate" starts out with a simple anthemic statement before leaping off into a kinetic Afro-pop jam. Some of these evocative sounds are simply evidence of Typical Sisters' deep analog skills, while others, like the opening chords on the title track that sound like a guitar being sucked backwards into vacuum, are most likely the result of the group's post-production experimentation. Such tinkering is done with discretion, and never sounds anything but organic.
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar