Much of Forrest York’s professional life has revolved around helping others make music, including the operation of his own recording studio and the past decade spent working at Chambers Guitars. But in the summer, York displayed his own musical chops with a new LP. The record features York’s “experiment in modern recording,” for which York laid the groundwork with an acoustic tune and then asked for contributors worldwide to add a layer to the song.
The all-instrumental record is titled Rainy Season, and it changes like one from the first track to the twelfth.
“Aurora Borealis” conjures desert moon-type imagery with a Middle Eastern sort of exoticism and a tambourine’s shake. “The Light” follows with sultry, electric bar blues before the Southern rock strokes of “Smitten,” which has an expressiveness in the guitars reminiscent of Eric Clapton.
Johnny Bellar adds Dobro to “Travesty in Virginia,” in which echoes pool out from gentle guitar and entwine with a slight percussion. The slow, dripping jam “New Grand Master” opens with Seth Timbs’ percussive plink (Timbs does most of the record’s drumming), then there’s the Charlie Brown jazz/blues guitar of “Somber Soul.”
Spencer Duncan adds a heavy pulse with upright bass on “Supernatural” which starts off with an earthier acoustic touch before spacing out. “Sundance” almost brings to mind Radiohead, circa Kid A, with its alien rhythm, plunky synth and horn. Suddenly, things go ’80s night on “Little Star,” which glitters with flamboyant Psychedelic Furs-esque synthesizers.
But the true beauty on Rainy Season is the “experiment,” a.k.a. “Shepard’s Pie.” It’s the most melodic and fluid track of the entire record, York’s Spanish sort of tune piled with eclectic layers from Casey Strength, Jon Grimson, Chris Selby, Hilary Finchum-Sung, Blake Dellinger, Steve Goodhue, Tracy Blair, Paul Niehaus and Jimmy Mansfield.
Each track is too distinct to gloss over and tie in with another song on the record, but in that sense Rainy Season accurately reflects York’s style and the purpose behind his collaborative experiment. Sometimes the least cohesive components make the most powerful whole.