Mojave Interlude

Joe Westerlund

Northern Spy Records, 2016

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


This album was recorded across a ten-year period (2006-2015) and in locations between North Carolina and California. Joe Westerlund and his few contributors produced an extremely unusual listen where analog and digital electronics are of key importance. As far as traditional instruments are concerned, saxophones, trumpets, bass clarinet, and trombones are on deck, though mostly it's the meticulous use of percussion that sets the foundation for the disc.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Part 1” is three sections in one long track. It is a blurry, warbling mix of electronics with the faint sound of fire wood crackling that erupts into in audio assault of bells, percussion, and sound of glass breaking, before calm water flows down a stream. While the bulk of the tune is random experimental noises, some of which stem from organic instruments, most of it is difficult to pinpoint as far as the origin of the sound. While it's largely busy and chaotic, it occasionally dips into quieter ebbs that are no less experimental and often times futuristic.

“Part 2” is also three sections in a 14-minute track, leading with crashing percussion and the scurrying of animals under a very dramatic, cinematic landscape. Soothing horns and water flowing bring in a more serene quality, but scratchy, disjointed, almost jazz-like sounds quickly dominate the song.  Midway through the tune, things get – believe it or not – even more tense, with many ideas colliding into an onslaught of static before retreating into raindrops and distant animal chirping, ultimately fading into soft droning with faint bells.

There are a couple of ways to look at this two track cassette: one, that it's just so esoteric and will probably only resonate with a small handful of people, and two, that the compositions are sonically challenging in a way that provides the listener with new finds with each repeated listen. Personally, I'm on board with the latter.

Rating: B

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