Eternal Tapestry Wild Strawberries

[Thrill Jockey; 2015]

Styles: psych-rock, kosmiche music
Others: Jackie O Motherfucker, Popol Vuh

Eternal Tapestry, the highly capable, veteran psych-rock players based in Portland, Oregon, have here a low-key, wandering double album that seems to be conceptually based around the circumstances of its recording: the band spent a week in a cabin in remote Oregon, jamming without interruption or outside influence on an 8-track over old Phish cassettes. They named the songs for the wildlife around the cabin, located under Mt. Hood, near a river called — insert joke here — the Zig Zag River.

The best thing to know about Wild Strawberries is that, unlike much of the other Eternal Tapestry music I’ve heard, this one has a lot of yummy, tasty, Popol Vuh-ian, synth-led dreamscape psyche — to the point where, after my dozenth listen, I started to think the droney opener was going to yawn into a cover of “Last Days Last Nights.” I mean that as a supreme complement (though it’s complicated by my feelings in the paragraph below). The second disc is often a wash of electronic pulses, keyboards, diving guitar lines, and cascading rhythms that coalesce into something greater than the sum of their parts.

But I must say I was saddened, and a little defeated, listening to the two long tracks on the first disc, “Wild Strawberries” and “Enchanter’s Nightshade,” which occupy over 30 minutes of the album. They are mid-tempo, trad-to-the-max, predictable clean-tone psych-music: it’s hard to imagine them needing to walk away from society to make them. Yes, there’s strong guitar playing, and the bass and drums plod capably, but it stays in the background and never enters the head. The record suddenly feels awkwardly escapist, and the listener is reminded that the whole disc actually feels rather laid-back. In this context, the band’s decision to name their workmanlike tracks after regional flora evokes nothing so much as a developer dubbing suburban subdivisions “Oak Creek” and “Meadow Glens.”

Links: Eternal Tapestry - Thrill Jockey

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