Seedsmen to the World

Seedsmen to the World

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Seedsmen to the World Review

by Fred Thomas

On their debut album, Detroit collective Seedsmen to the World slow down time, stretching faintly familiar sounds and ideas into dark, lingering drones. Made up of guitarists Gretchen Gonzales and Joey Mazzola, percussionist Steve Nistor, Ethan Daniel Davidson on vocals and cello banjo, and Warren Defever on harmonium and tanpura, Seedsmen to the World is a Detroit supergroup of sorts, as all five members are storied players with resum├ęs too lengthy to get into here. As a unit, however, the quintet displays an uncanny group chemistry, with everyone showing incredible intuition and restraint where it would be easy to overwhelm the amorphous arrangements. The album is made up of just four tracks, each with a one-word title that hints at the song it takes inspiration from or remodels. The nearly 13-minute opening track "Blood," for instance, reshapes Bob Dylan's "It's Alright, Ma I'm Only Bleeding" into a menacing dirge. Psychedelic guitar solos drift over a single-note bedrock of harmonium as Davidson's raspy vocals recite the lyrics of the Dylan original in a hypnotized cadence. "Rain" is a euphoric reading of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" delivered with a similar mantra-like flow. The song's arrangement balances buzzing drones with gentle acoustic instruments and tasteful electric guitar leads, landing in a kind of new age-meets-classic rock delirium. "Home" and "Brown" stray from roots rock to interpolate folk songs of unclear origin. "Brown" in particular twists its way through 11 minutes, with deep twang from a cello banjo dancing with sheets of ambient guitar and gentle tides of percussion. The album is eerie and mysterious, but above all things it's subtle. The five musicians who make up Seedsmen to the World leave ample space for each other to punctuate the songs and weave interesting details into the dense waves of sound. The end result is a hard to predict kind of ambient folk, one that coasts by like a passing storm at first, but reveals something new on every repeat listen.

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