❉ Thor & Friends’ second album suits this time of year mightily, offering vivid snatches of pause and recognition.
The irrepressible Thor Harris is probably best known as the remarkable, perpetual-motion percussionist for the revived 21st century incarnation of Swans, and following the dissolution of that outfit, he’s now exploring his adventures in sound, open-hearted curiosity and collaboration with the aid of Peggy Ghorbani and Sarah “Goat” Gautier plus a passing show cast of compadres, in the free-spirited tradition of Austin TX artists down the years. Their second album, The Subversive Nature Of Kindness, out in the US for a couple of months now, is hereby available over in the yook’n’eu.
A bedding of marimba seasoned with esoteric massed beaters, including items created by Thor himself from his other life as builder and carpenter, and ullulating landscapes piqued with flute, violin and wordless chorus are the order of the day here. Thor’s mix of frenetics and detail lent the latter-day Swans much of their expansiveness, and Thor & Friends are no less supple and alluring in their manoeuvres, a delicate Texan-gamelan which, according to the players, “is hoped …will ease some of the terror of living in these uncertain times.”
Having previously only heard Thor’s percussion-pictures within the gargantuanisms of Swans, I found the scattered rainfall showers and cloud-scuttle of this album beautifully, tricklingly refreshing; entirely au fait with their wish. Some genuine meditative beauty here – the music-box lull of An Escapist’s Theme or the gentle heathaze of Standing Rock – with the more propulsive tracks like 90 Metres or Grassfire! resembling a warmer, more organic take on the Reichian post-rock of such as Tortoise; modest yet moving modern rainbows in curved air, if you like. One for daybreaks or small hours rather than the full glare of daylight, but a recommended heady balm.
❉ Originally released 17 November 2017, ‘The Subversive Nature Of Kindness’ is available from Living Music Duplication via Bandcamp.