Guitarist Chris Schlarb has never really held himself to one sound. The inventive musician can be described as playing in the vein of jazz as much as he can be described as playing along experimental music, drone, or folk veins. There are folks out there who may talk about playing without regard to genre, eliminating those confines, but Schlarb lives that life. Last year, he and his band Psychic Temple did their interweaving on the still gripping II, now he keeps the same new age potpouri vibe with everyone but him stripped away on his new solo release, Making the Saint, out now on Asthmatic Kitty.
The bulk of the album is spent on the first and third tracks, the 19-minute title track and the 14 and a half-minute "The Fear of Death is The Birth of God", taking up a good two thirds of the album's almost 40-minute runtime. It's in these songs that the drone theme runs through, looping over very sparse chords while gently improvising throughout. It's an album that's as oneiric as it is at times plaintive. The other two songs on the album, the brief "The Great Receiver" and the even more brief take on the standard "My Foolish Heart" work more as digestifs for the hearty meditative selections that came before them. It's a tight, well-constructed album that's able to be as beautifully sprawling as it is because of its few, uncomplicated elements and its care for its consumption. Yes, I as a dj don't know what to do with an album where the meat is just too much to digest over the medium of radio (though believe me, I'm going to try), but as a listener, it's a delight to spend forty minutes spacing out.
When Schlarb made this album in a cabin in the San Bernadino mountains of California, he was endeavoring to make a small album made quite naturally. What he released shows that effort-- a work that's as easy to listen to in its simple beauty, artfully done while maintaining accessibility. It's a true delight as sure to get stuck in your head as all his other works.
In support of the album, Schlarb will be touring the US through July and August (including a show put on by Nextbop @ AoC on Schlarb's birthday [just a coincidence, but we're pleased he'll be celebrating with us], July 10th, in San Antonio). Check him out live if you have the chance.
July 5 - Phoenix, AZ @ Trunk Space
July 6 - Santa Fe, NM @ High Mayhem
July 9 - Austin, TX @ Church of the Friendly Ghost
July 10 - San Antonio, TX @ Sala Diaz
July 11 - Houston, TX @ Alabama Song
July 15 - Nashville, TN @ Stone Fox
July 16 - Athens, GA @ Cine
July 20 - Washington DC @ Union Arts DC
July 23 - New York, NY New Amsterdam
July 27 - Athens, OH @ Donkey Coffee
July 28 - Cincinnati, OH @ House Show
July 29 - Owensborough, KY @ Daviess County Public Library
July 30 - Indianapolis, IN @ Joyful Noise
July 31 - Goshen, IN @ Ignition Music
August 1 - Chicago, IL @ Comfort Station
August 2 - Oshkosh, WI @ Oshkosh Masonic Center
August 4 - Wichita, KS @ Track House
August 8 - San Francisco, CA @ Holy Innocents Episcopal Church
August 9 - San Luis Obispo, CA @ Boo Boo Records