(Self-published, cassette, digital)
The ice through my bedroom window caught the sunlight like a mirror, and a beam woke me up to what I frankly consider a rude hour. I don’t know exactly what happened next as I was still getting myself out of a dream but somehow I turned on the music I had to myself. asleep while listening.
“E-bow”, the seventh track by Rob Voland Large open sky, have spread AirPods still in my ears. Both confused by the independent rock that seems to come forward on its own and immediately feeling in tune with Voland’s lead guitar, I sat down, vibrating. path too hard at such a time.
It might be strange to be leaning over a record the very moment you wake up, but something in Voland’s music lends itself to an altered state. And this is not the code for Hey, get high and listen to this record. I mean, do whatever you want, but what I’m talking about is music that changes moods. Music works its magic when it slows you down and pulls you out of everyday life, even for just about three minutes.
Large open sky excels in this regard. From the panoramic grandeur and slide guitar of “Untitled, With Coyotes” to the lo-fi folklore of “Eye to Eye”, the record unfolds like a long daydream. In keeping with the rest of Voland’s catalog, the Burlington musician’s latest effort only features sounds he created himself, which might explain the album’s cohesive and dreamlike tone.
Making music that leans into the atmosphere can backfire without clever arrangements and variation in writing. Fortunately, Voland takes care of both throughout the 11 songs, never allowing the energy to stray too far in any direction. The sequencing is equally masterful, with each song feeling like its own stand-alone chapter. The title song is a REM-on-codeine rocker that sets the tone but not the beat.
Voland’s third album is, in many ways, his best. 2018 Quality of loneliness was a startling portrait of grief, an author creating an isolated testimony. 2020s Remanence had a little more advantage, with flashes of Sonic Youth and Pavement. It is not correct to say Large open sky combines the energy of both, but it feels like a record with its past firmly referenced in the footnotes.
By the time the last track, “Lake Mountain”, ended the record, I had started my day reluctantly. As the distorted, wah-wah heavy guitar riffed on a frantic drum beat, I could already feel the waves of everyday life coming in like high tide. Nonetheless, I was grateful for the half hour and more of transportation provided by Voland. Sometimes you just need music that gets you out of your body for a little while.
Order Large open sky on tape or streaming at robvolandmusic.bandcamp.com.