Captain Yonder

Good-bye, Woland!

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Singer/songwriter/guitarist Ryan Pfeiffer, who for all intents and purposes is Captain Yonder (even if cellist/singer Esmé Schwall, guitarist James Edlund, percussionist Jess Halverson, drummer Tommy Larkins, and Adam Wirtzfeld, playing the musical saw, join in), begins his band's fourth album, Good-bye, Woland!, with a quirky proposal in the lead-off track, "In Anatolia." He complains that his words are "so lame," but goes on to ask, "Please take this ring and all my things," only to add, "I can't stay/My life here is fallow." This half-hearted request is set to a strummed acoustic guitar and sung in Pfeiffer's wheezy tenor, appropriately giving it more the tone of an elegy than a celebration. And so it goes in the music of this former truck driver from Minnesota (who in addition lists on his résumé the occupations of "philosopher, maritime cadet, orchestral musician, and lawyer"). Also the head of his own record company, Strange Midge Music, Pfeiffer answers only to himself, and that means he is free to pursue his muse as it takes him and to proclaim his "Ode to a Trucker #9," in which he experiences both an apocalyptic nightmare and a wet dream while dozing in his cab. That may actually be the best song on the album, even as it is almost the strangest. Weirder still is the untitled hidden track at the end, in which Wirtzfeld's eerie saw is overdubbed to create the kind of special effects usually heard only in a cheap science fiction movie. But even before then, Captain Yonder has proved to be pretty spacy.

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