Stunning new long-form tape/drone/psych work from Matt Krefting of The Believers/Son Of Earth et al: to say Krefting’s CV has been pretty, uh, diffuse, over the past decade or so would be to state the bleeding obvious, but it’s worthwhile doing the maths: bassist with the legendarily under-recorded rural glam band The Believers, one third of one of the funniest and most challenging art/action groups to come out of the Northeast, Son Of Earth, frontman for an album of ‘classic’ rock covers on Ecstatic Peace (very much The Bride Stripped Bare of his back catalogue), solo pianist, floating member of Scott Foust’s Anti-Naturals, poet, drunk, occasional rock-crit, Bowie apologist... he’s been them all. So getting a handle on where he’s truly at musically has remained a challenge. Recent discs, however, have sounded more, well, Krefting, than anything that has gone before, pointing to some kind of reconciliation of alla his influences and loves, from classic rock through sound poetry, isolationist drone, Kosmische keyboard ascensions and weirdo Industrial moves, the bulk of which he touched on on his excellent album for Kendra Steiner, Sweet Days Of Discipline. But Krefting’s catalogue has long been in need of a monster, a defining edifice that would finally articulate the weird intense/lonely/rigorous/loose aspect that hung around the best of his releases and that would make sense to non-Krefting initiates as to just why so many people had so much faith in the guy. Well, High Hopes delivers alla that and then some. No one does the sound of lonely quite as well as Krefting and this is a really lonesome recording. Using tapes and processed sounds High Hopes plays out in two movements on a side each of vinyl. It starts out with a fuzzy, dislocated drone that has an eerie tactile/occult quality to it that could almost be Hiroshi Kawani or Alvin Lucier but with a specific hermetic/personal aspect that is tough to crack. It reminds me a bit of the weird wine glass compositions on the Mirror albums and the understated devotional feel is made fully overt as the drone segues into a gorgeous choral loop that comes over like Current 93’s hallucinatory patripassianist song. From there we move into some aggressive metal/chains work that orbits the electro-acoustic invention of early UK noise groups like Ferial Confine and The New Blockaders.
The second side opens with some haunting, wobbly piano work that has the aspect of one of Harry Partch’s operatic settings crossed with a fin-de-siècle Atlantis before we move further into the menstrual night with Faust-ian loops of Gregorian chant that sound like they are broadcasting across centuries. The whole piece comes together for a final floating drone that sounds like the breath of the gods and that is as evocative as anything by Popol Vuh or William Basinski.
This is one of the most personal tape/drone workings you’ll hear this year. There’s something so easy and natural about it, the way that it blends American DIY traditions with an air of austere Industrial/classical European gravity, crossed with a sense of loneliness and individuality that is profoundly affecting. If you’ve ever wondered what all the fuss is about this Krefting guy, High Hopes is your answer. Great Wallace Berman-esque cover art from Bill Nace, limited to 300 copies. Highest possible recommendation!