What will I be doing every other day for the next four to six months? Listening to Kelley Stoltz’ Antique Glow—trying to figure out how in the hell he recorded most of this insanely ambitious, densely layered, modern psychedelic opus in the bedroom of his San Fransisco apartment using only a Tascam 1/4” reel to reel and one Sure SM57 microphone. With hypnotic bass lines, droning cosmic synthesizers, Elizabethan acoustic guitar, chiming bells and/or toy piano, swooshing cymbals, pounding kettle drums, fuzzy, detuned electric guitar, swelling choirs, nondescript flute, reverb-drenched slide, punchy dobro, pinging metallic hammers, didjeridoo (or something pretty close), unparalleled use of stereosound, and an interstellar array of esoteric sounds that’ll leave you guessing—Antique Glow is the kind of record that pushes rock’n’roll into the realm of art. There’s enough going on here to discover a new subtlety or nuance almost every time you sit down and listen. And that’s what you should do on this one. Turn off the TV, bury your cell-phone in the backyard, sit down and listen. Remember back before MP3s, tapes & CDs—when people used to dim the lights, burn a few candles and drop some vinyl on the turntable? Even if you don’t, you should give it a try sometime.
Okay, now that I’ve hooked you without referencing a single other band or artist, let me get this off my chest—’60s & ’70s Bowie, Velvet Underground with Sterling Morrison, Revolver-Magical Mystery Tour-era Beatles, Nick Drake, late ’60s Floyd (with or without Syd Barret), Beefheart, free jazz, Ledbelly and Donovan. Get the picture? Good.
With the opening track “Perpetual Night,” what begins like a plain-old folk album morphs at once into something other-worldly. Existential static fades in with a sound that can best be described as the crackle of evaporating rain on high-voltage power-lines. The nonsensical poetry of the lyrics meanders from ancient dinosaurs to city lights—and as the album unfolds, you become unstuck in time, shot through some pulsing tunnel past semi-permeable walls of flashing light. The sounds dissipate every few minutes, giving way to the next musical whim. Earthy tones float in for a moment and then, suddenly you’re sucked back violently into the transitory astral plane.
“One Thousand Rainy Days,” has the feel of an old delta blues, but with a catch. Instead of a smoky, bourbon-soaked juke joint—it’s being broadcast live via satellite from a distant, lonely echo-chamber aboard the MIR space station. Tripped-out rocker “Are You Electric” and the quirky, staccato musings of “Please Visit Soon” cue the antipop & aural oil paints Stoltz’ writing and arranging invoke. The album wraps up with the dark, loping lounge-country of “My Silver Lining,” its bassy vocal—strangely enough—sounding like some parallel-universe incarnation of Kris Kristofferson.
Dense and challenging, Antique Glow is an experimental album that works; a sonic journey worth taking. Oh, and if anyone wants to get this Paste writer the perfect Christmas gift—a limited edition vinyl pressing of Antique Glow, complete with Stoltz’ hand-painted cover art, is now available on the artist’s Web site. I’m no collector, I just want to hear it—all that beautiful analog sound washing over you like a thousand tiny waterfalls. Not to mention the unequivocal anticipation of those first few seconds of needle-in-the groove white noise…