Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

A Brilliantly Dark, Purposeful Debut From Guitarist Nick Rousseau

Guitarist Nick Rousseau‘s debut full-length album Rest/Unrest – streaming at Bandcamp – is strikingly vivid, often troubled music that reflects the struggles of our time. Rousseau plays purposefully, often sparely, with an uncluttered, slightly reverb-tinged tone and writes darkly translucent themes.

The title track begins spaciously and pensively, guest trumpeter Alex Sipiagin doubling Rousseau’s steady, moody, resonant lines, up to a warily reflective solo. Bassist Sean Hannon, pianist Carlin Lee and drummer Anton Kot provide a smartly lowlit backdrop.

The second number, Lucid Awakening shifts quickly from a dreamy bass-and-guitar introduction to somberly descending chromatics, then the band pick up the pace with incisive piano and guitar solos over Kot’s oceanic forward drive. The outro is spot-on beyond words.

Likewise, in Let Their Voices Sing, the band move quickly from a glittering, neoromantic-tinged intro to a shadowy clave, a flaring guitar solo and then a deliciously messy, heavy metal outro. Deassurance, a wistful ballad, has hints of Scottish folk and early Pat Metheny (without the ubiquitous, watery chorus-pedal ambience). The polyrhythmic interweave between Rousseau and Kot – who was only eighteen when he recorded this – is breathtaking.

Mutedly eerie piano glistens over a sketchy rhythm and dissociative loops in Soul Harvest, an increasingly animated tableau where the reaper seems to be having a feast. Rousseau launches into an ambling, guardedly optimistic theme to kick off Reconstruction, punctuating Lee’s loose-limbed, bluesy piano lines with bright, incisive spires.

Rousseau returns to somber wistfulness in Fall Rebuild, a disconsolately modal ballad: this time it’s Lee’s turn to puncture and color around a looping guitar phrase as Kot builds stormy intensity. The album’s final cut, simply and aptly titled Solemn, is a spacious, pastoral tone poem for solo guitar.

Rousseau also has a brooding, Big Lazy-esque, rather macabre single, Gaslight – good subject matter for an era of lockdowns and lethal injections, huh? – up at his Bandcamp page as a free download.

October 30, 2021 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment