The swell brotherhood of Andy and Edwin White has resulted in a number of splendid, half-melted musical journeys over the past few years, but none quite as glorious as their main outlet Tonstartssbandht’s Europe tour-documenting double live LP Overseas. Stringing together the White’s ramshackle love of old-fashioned rawk with a tousled, willfully undefinable sensibility, Overseas forged a concrete, energetic jam-band sound out of the Florida duo’s random sonic sketches without losing the loosey goosey attitude that made those releases so charming. It was one of the most impressive statements from a minimal guitar-and-drums duo in some time, and since then, the question has been whether the boys were capable of translating this same energy and classic rock reinvention into a full-fledged studio album or if their mojo truly was the sort of thing that only made sense in scattered Bandcamp releases and improvised basement shows.
With Sorcerer, Tonstartssbandht has gone to work on perfecting their live sound, sculpting a three-part suite of extended road rock that encapsulates what made them invigorating in the first place. A shade darker than Overseas, the grooves on Sorcerer take their time, not by bashing the White’s whimsical attitude into your head, but by slowly, smoothly creeping into the picture. Opener “Breathe” sees Andy White plucking out iridescent shapes on his 12-string, as a spacious, swampy intro sets in, only to give way at the crucial moment to a carefree, meandering folk strum that shapeshifts effortlessly across the track’s 11 minutes. The chemistry between Andy and Edwin is absolute magic, their call-and-response exchange so fluid and choogling that the music becomes both relaxing and bursting with excitement. The title track especially seems to go in all directions at once, skipping between altar boy harmonies and 70s boogie with little sense of a clear trajectory; but Tonstartssbandht live and breathe in this open-ended possibility, jamming as if they were carrying forth some consecrated torch clearing away the darkness to carve a new space for their joyous sense of mysticism to frolic.
It’s a pretty marvelous thing that the White brothers have accomplished, reinvigorating something as done to death as bluesy psychedelic country rock, but what really sets Tonstartssbandht apart in their pursuit is how unconcerned they seem with embodying any kind of monolithic classic rock ideal. Although retro in form, the music on Sorcerer is cloudy and untethered, sprawling endlessly in real-time like something new and alive. In Tonstartssbandht’s hands, rock & roll is just a means to an end, a passageway to unlocking the innate bond between the White brothers, who approach their instruments with a similar sense of exploratory but humble dedication. As a follow-up to the massive, hypnotizing Overseas, Sorcerer is a concise distillation of Tonstartssbandht’s refreshing vision, a crystal ball portraying their intimate friendship, their cosmic noodling echoing deep into the nethersphere.