Not ones to dodge accusations of hubristic ambition, Christian Beaulieu of Triclops! and The Mars Volta’s Cedric Bixler-Zavala have joined forces to create an album of acoustic, raga-inspired psychedelia. With the addition of Mike Watt on bass and vocalist Rachel Fannan they are Anywhere, and there’s something very odd and very very good about their debut.
If the title of opener Pyramid Mirrors puts you in mind of Battles you wouldn’t be far wrong. It’s a layered instrumental of acoustic polyrhythms and while not representative of the rest of the album it’s a striking start. But it’s from second track Rosa Rugosa that things start to come together. Twangy western guitars, doomy bass, touches of glockenspiel and simple, stuttery drums underpin Fannan’s beautiful layers of harmonies in a way that’s a lot more coherent and convincing than you’d expect from an experimental collaboration. Dead Golden West, another track featuring Fannan’s vocals, is similarly ethereal and affecting, pushing into Gregorian chant territory in places.
For those that still crack out At The Drive-In for a noise hit, Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s contribution is cause for excitement, and with the title track Anywhere seem to have created the first credible acoustic post-hardcore song. The drums and guitars have a syncopated pulse that’s familiar from ATD-I and The Mars Volta, and while the vocals are fairly restrained and melodic they fit the music in a way that could have fallen flat in less talented hands. As with all seven tracks here, it’s a lengthy-ish workout rather than a snappy punk song, but is focused and never self-indulgent.
So where would this album sit in your record collection? It’s hard to say. It’s not a retro effort but it also doesn’t sound particularly contemporary. Calling it competent wouldn’t be dismissive; they’ve set out to explore acoustic music with the twin influences of open tuned raga and dusty bordertown Americana and made something intriguing and beautiful.