Romantic, if earthly, uplift from ones who’ve been around the globe and brought their wisdom back home.
Five years on since "Manifest Density" announced the advent of this Seattle formation, the world has changed, and maybe not for the better. But the band moved on too – ostensibly with a prospect of counterbalancing it all – and, while their live album presented a palpable intensity, “Groundswell” opts for tectonic velocity. So there’s a lot of logic in the dirge of “Mustardseed” hiding a comic strain in its brass-cut funereal core, whereas “Skein” is one highly-wired, electric tangle of Dennis Rea’s guitar, James DeJoie’s sax and Alicia’s DeJoie’s violin. It turns into a rich humorous vein on the bluesy twang of “Gnashville” that adopts a Chinese motif, Rea’s specialty, and a gradually intensifying jazz vibe for “In That Distant Place,” but not before “Fountain Of Euthanasia” spills a dose of angst into the record’s tentative serenity.
That’s what lies in the heart of the troubled folk in “Spiritual Gatecrasher” with its meandering flute and hazy arrangement wrapped around an Eastern melody, but whatever pastoral feel there is is broken into angular pieces with the contorted blues of “Synecdoche” which gains momentum to coil into reckless rocking. This mood also seeps into the crawling philosophy behind “The Earth Is An Atom” where the reeds reign over riffs, yet “Waylaid” boils the rarefied onslaught down to minimalistic particles: a chamber line and then a collage a la musique concrète. As a contrast to it all, “The Okanogan Lobe” is full of life and swells more and more as it progresses into a celebratory ride until the erstwhile dirge returns – big, bold, brilliant now – to shape up the harmony stack into a thundering sound of nature itself. Down to Earth? Yes, and it means the album gets as close as possible to Mother Earth.