Two decades into their existence, Pell Mell, the instrumental quartet that has members in four different locations on both coasts, created their sixth and finest album, STAR CITY. It's a bracing, cohesive offering that demonstrates that the band had been rethinking the recipe. Producer Tchad Blake (Latin Playboys, Soul Coughing) places instruments in the mix in a way that gives rise to an ever-changing sonic shape. Pell Mell, who are essentially a guitar-bass-organ-drums outfit, build sturdy structures from the foundation up. With that solid rhythm in place the band then takes creative license with the architecture of the upper floors. Never utilizing mere filigree, Pell Mell adheres to a code of rigorous elegance at all times. Steve Fisk's organ gives way to xylophones and adapted sounds whose source may be blurred but remains ever intriguing. Guitarist David Spalding, the band's newest member, wrote the bulk of the material. Each of these 14 songs is a discreet yet complete entity. In the grand tradition of instrumental music this is an album of miniature soundtracks.
Star City Review