Colin Stetson’s new album, All This I Do For Glory, is an incredible album, and I mean that in the most literal sense: that I cannot believe that music like this exists. The new music seems like a distillation of his aesthetic and his technique, the songs feel sharp and willful and hard and yearning, somehow approaching a limit. When I saw him in concert some time in the fall of 2013, I was awed by what he did alone on stage. From way back in the crowd where I was, his silhouette suggested something more like a volunteer firefighter wrestling a humongous piece of plumbing pipe, but he produced unearthly sounds. All This I Do For Glory is a tremendous achievement, I think that’s fair to say, but not one that everyone will admire, I guess; for me, there’s a lot there, the album is spectacular and I listened to it maybe twice a day for a month. It is absorbing. There’s no one making music quite like this: haunting, urgent, vivid, human, wild. One of the best albums of the year so far.
A newspaper on fire. An old magazine left in a patch of blackberries. Drops of water on the trunk of a cedar tree. The music on Ian William Craig’s Slow Vessels is here, barely. Smudged. Hazy. Covered. Momentary. The songs on Slow Vessels are all compressed versions of songs that were on Centres, Craig’s album from 2016, an album that was even more smudged and stretched-out and distorted. It’s fascinating to hear artists take their songs and turn them inside out, or essentially rewrite them like Craig does on Slow Vessels. His voice is at the front of the songs here, though, a voice that sounds like it belongs in a play, in a musical, or as the second lead in an opera, stealing all the scenes.
Woods’ mini-album, Love is Love, is pretty hopeful, all things considered. The band remarked that they recorded it in the two months after the U.S. election, when many people felt despondent and hopeless and isolated and crazed (I felt all those things, plus an incredible and never-receding anger that shaded into sadness that so many other people could be so stupid and short-sighted and selfish and hateful and fucked-in-the-head and devoid of any fellow feeling for other human beings). It’s nice to hear music that celebrates love and hope and warmth. This is a good album, with buoyant tunes.