All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

8

Bill Brovold & Jamie Saft: Serenity Knolls

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
It's a shame to say it, but even the most open-minded souls have a tendency to classify and ghettoize musical artists. This is the type of album that reminds us all that you shouldn't.

Bill Brovold, a guitarist who came up in the New York no wave scene in the early '80s and is known for his work with avant-rock outfit Larval, and Jamie Saft, a wide-ranging keyboardist with aggressive tendencies and tremendous outside cred, pair decently well on paper. That's no real surprise. The shocker is in how they pair and what they play here. If you're looking for an aural assault or a gut punch, this isn't it. Expectations be damned! Saft, in an inspired change of direction, leaves his keyboards behind and picks up dobro and lap steel guitar. Brovold sticks with electric guitar, but he avoids any trickery, excess, and/or strange effects. Together, they keep it simple, creating an album of front porch twang-and-strum, evoking peacefulness on the prairies and offering one American idyll after another.

"It began with the idea of making music that was 'Country Ambient' and arrived at something of an alternative state of consciousness," Saft notes. After hearing these twelve tracks, it's clear that the state he cites is one built on the act of rural woolgathering. Both men take their respective daydreams to the same places, gently and patiently chewing on beautifully uncomplicated ideas that speak to the aural American(a) virtues of Bill Frisell, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and other like-hearted musicians. One number might meld steadiness and uncertainty ("Bemidji"), another may rely on a backdrop of arpeggiated chords to support the simplest of melodic bits ("No Horse Seen"), a third may conjure thoughts of tumbleweed and Ralph Stanley ("Splintering Wind"), and a fourth might just capture the essence of a breeze coasting over farmlands and the gentle pleasures of watching the crops rustle while sitting back with a piece of hay in your teeth ("Serenity Knolls").

This one may not hold great appeal for those who prefer the edgier sides of these artists and the boldest of musical works that regularly come off the RareNoise line, but it' a beauty nonetheless. Bill Brovold and Jamie Saft have managed to capture the heart, spirit, and sound of a country day in their duo explorations. Heartland, hearth, and home sweet home are well-represented on Serenity Knolls.

Track Listing: Sweet Grass; Mitchimakinak; Saddle Horn; Wendigo; Thermopolis; The Great American Bison; Bemidji; No Horse Seen; Splintering Wind; Greybuli; Serenity Knolls; Silent Midpoint.

Personnel: Bill Brovold: electric guitar; Jamie Saft: dobro, lap steel guitar.

Title: Serenity Knolls | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: RareNoiseRecords

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Solo a Genova

Solo a Genova

RareNoiseRecords
2018

buy
Loneliness Road

Loneliness Road

RareNoiseRecords
2017

buy
Serenity Knolls

Serenity Knolls

RareNoiseRecords
2017

buy
Sunshine Seas

Sunshine Seas

RareNoiseRecords
2016

buy
The New Standard

The New Standard

RareNoiseRecords
2014

buy

Related Articles

Read SuperClusters CD/LP/Track Review
SuperClusters
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 21, 2018
Read Your Queen Is A Reptile CD/LP/Track Review
Your Queen Is A Reptile
by Chris May
Published: February 21, 2018
Read Melodious Drum CD/LP/Track Review
Melodious Drum
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 21, 2018
Read The Speed of Dark CD/LP/Track Review
The Speed of Dark
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 21, 2018
Read Love & Peace CD/LP/Track Review
Love & Peace
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2018
Read La Saboteuse CD/LP/Track Review
La Saboteuse
by Chris May
Published: February 20, 2018
Read "Strykin’ Ahead" CD/LP/Track Review Strykin’ Ahead
by Roger Farbey
Published: July 13, 2017
Read "Departure" CD/LP/Track Review Departure
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 26, 2017
Read "Through The Glass" CD/LP/Track Review Through The Glass
by Nicola Negri
Published: March 25, 2017
Read "Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk" CD/LP/Track Review Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 10, 2017
Read "Cosmic Playground" CD/LP/Track Review Cosmic Playground
by Don Phipps
Published: February 20, 2018
Read "One of a Kind" CD/LP/Track Review One of a Kind
by Troy Dostert
Published: October 3, 2017