Agitated Atmosphere: On Fillmore – Extended Vacation

As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to shed a bit of light and share a bit of information on the up and coming sounds of artists such as On Fillmore

It reckons your eyes have met this particular entry because you caught a fleeting glimpse of the name Glenn Kotche and your Wilco radar began to pulsate with expectant glee. Indeed, the multitasking percussionist is one half of the duo known as On Fillmore, but more importantly for fans of Kotche’s pop-oriented work, Extended Vacation will provide an introduction to Kotche’s true avant callings as well as his On Fillmore compadre, Darin Gray.

Listen to “Master Moon”:

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Extended Vacation marks the duo’s first proper album in five years and their debut for Dead Oceans, but neither are new to the game of creating experimental music that twinkles with the power of all the stars in the night skies. Gray has been a fixture on bass for the likes of Jim O’Rourke, Akira Sakata, Chris Corsano, Loren Connors… this could take awhile. Kotche’s work outside of Wilco is well documented as well and his last solo album, Mobile, provides a sturdy primer for the melodies that are woven throughout Extended Vacation. Toss out your traditionalist ideas about drum and bass duos because neither instrument takes center stage for Kotche and Gray. Rather, Extended Vacation is a collection of whistles, chimes, found sounds, and field recordings that are gently propped by deep rhythmic strings and hushed snares and toms. The results find refuge in a niche all their own — never quite crossing the pop threshold built on uniform melodies and traditional instrumentation nor daring to strike the right jazz stylings that historians romanticize and modernists dare to quell with exuberant wails and moans. Extended Vacation is more akin to adventurous literature, delving into childish fantasies of creation by any means necessary. Granted, the equipment Gray and Kotche utilize may be more reliable and inviting than a cupboard of pots and pans but the results are just as exciting, though a bit sleepy when compared to the thunderous syncopation of youth. Rarely does Extended Vacation raise its voice above a comforting whisper — and like the spacey canvas from which it draws its inspiration, it gently rocks us to peaceful rest with lullaby after lullaby.

Justin Spicer is a freelance journalist who also runs the webzine, Electronic Voice Phenomenon. He writes the Monday News Mash-Up for the KEXP Blog. You may follow him on Twitter.

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