After the fall, time stands hopeless and still. Possibilities stream in as an endless river. Stars shine again. Any beginning is still a beginning. After the Bend finds Flanger Magazine’s Chris Bush joined by a host of companions. From former Caboladies compatriots Eric Lanham and Benjamin Zoellner to Frekons’ (Freakwater + Mekons) Anna Krippenstapel and Equipment Pointed Ankh’s Jim Marlowe, this ensemble from the wilds illuminates After the Bend, instilling these songs with a rough diamond glow.
From the opening phantom silhouettes woven into the rustic strum and enveloping strings of “Reservoir,” a poignant narrative takes shape. Plucked guitars eschew the metallic percussive clatter calling from beneath emotive string passages. A little strand of light singes the edges of the lackadaisical path, hinting at the ebullient reverie of “Falls Fountain Removed.” Lilting timbres coalesce into a free-flowing jamboree; a feel-good bounce through reclaimed landscapes and backwoods fantasies. Synthetic gloss brings a sharpness to the whirling halls of strings and buoyant leads adding to the effusive joy. Every moment of “Falls Fountain Mountain” is carefree and contagious.
With so much texture from the array of instrumentation on After the Bend, the beautiful use of field recordings builds the world out in intricate organic detail. Rain and thunder imbue the elegant instrumental structure of “Erased Underscore” with darker shadows and a certain sense of drama. “Falls Fountain Removed” opens with a walk in the woods to set the mood while peppering birdsong, insects, and more throughout to bring the whimsical festivities to life. Bush doesn’t shy from bringing these elements to the fore and After the Bend is better for it.
Acoustic guitar channels broken down folk timelessness, laying the ground for synth electricity and saxophone skronk that’s been fermenting below the water table sending out sonic tendrils to strangle last year’s seed. The electronics and horns are a shock to the system in the best way, clearing the decks for side-long closer “Fantasy for Window Mountain Moon.”
Whether the end was nothing more than a dream bookended by emotive violin forms and vibrant arpeggios, the emotional shadow cast by “Fantasy for Window Mountain Moon” is vast and enduring. Boundless electronics fuse encoded psychedelia with pensive memories and clairvoyant Americana, spurring the birth of new, fertile ground where dusk never ends. Flanger Magazine creates its own circadian rhythm to foster deep-rooted connections well beyond the pastoral ephemera lining this aurally scenic path. The twilight hours may long for sunlight as After the Bend fades, but bright futures always burn to ash and halcyon days have always been a myth, but in those moments just beyond the real magic rises.