Reviews

Published on June 3rd, 2016 | by The Beige Baron

1

Prana Crafter | Rupture of Plains

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About 10 years ago, some time after Ben Harper released Fight for Your Mind, roots music exploded. Everywhere you looked there was a hippy peering at you from a magazine cover or pole poster. The airwaves were awash with inoffensive drum-circle ballads from artists like Xavier Rudd, Donavon Frankenreiter, or the John Butler Trio.

Optimistic patchouli-funk was piped into every waiting room and supermarket. Middle managers played Pete Murray on their mini-systems (Norah Jones in the carousel, should Janine be working late). The radio offered a choice of this faux-ethnic, nylon-string beach-hut music, Craig David, or the grating whines of emo stars Three Word Name as they cut their wrists for the last and final time. Mainstream music was in pretty bad shape.

There was nothing wrong with roots, just that the taste gets old when it’s jammed down your throat.

Five minutes glide by in pleasant revere, notes on the guitar solo sustained to give space for the arrangement to unfold beneath. It’s winning me over

The Internet offered a welcome escape. A cornucopia of dusty vinyl was being liberated from thrift stores and into the ears of blog readers, laying foundations for a new kind of artist. Wild sonic diversity, 70 years of cultural tradition instantly accessible to a generation that was learning not to color between the lines. Anyone could make and distribute an album without leaving their bedrooms — or beach huts — and there was nothing left of the old music industry left to sell out to anyway.

Which leads me — at last — to William Sol, a.k.a. Prana Crafter. An indie artist of the right age to have benefitted from that golden age of music sharing, and open enough about an eastern influence on his brand of psychedelia (inspired by the nature surrounding his home in Northeastern America), Prana Crafter has issued second album Rupture of Planes through webzine/label Deep Water Acres.

Cue up track one, Forest At First Light. As gentle acoustic chords and floaty mellow vocals waft into my cans, I am transported back to 2005, swerving in and out of Eastern Freeway traffic and bashing frantically on the car radio dials in a desperate effort to shut up Xavier Rudd up for the fifth time that day. I fear that my probably unreasonable prejudice against roots music may have doomed this guy’s chances of a fair hearing.

But then something cool happens: drums and fuzz guitars bleed in, and an uplifting chorus hook that took me completely by surprise.

The next song opens with clean reverb and a billow of organ, spooky plucked strings, and a drum machine. Five minutes glide by in pleasant revere, notes on the guitar solo sustained to give space for the arrangement to unfold beneath. It’s winning me over: this stuff is pretty great.

Then Rupture of Planes slips back into gentle, melodic folk-rock, with Sol’s clear voice carried along on a slinky bass and acoustic guitar. It’s easy to listen to, but it’s not blowing my hair back. More interesting, though, is Moshka Of Melting Mind, a collage of guitar overdubs that comes close to describing the dappled and mysterious color of the forest. Splashes of drum machine, percussion, and blazing forks of distortion shift throughout; there’s an eastern motif repeated as the song closes.

Treasure In A Ruin begins to tug at the roof of your mind with an atmospheric study in synth and guitar tone, but lacks a satisfying conclusion. Luckily, Dharma Dripping Lotus picks up the loose thread with eight more minutes of tone painting, and it’s probably the most successfully executed experiment on the album.

The main issue I have with Rupture of Planes is that it seems to struggle finding a locus around which to revolve: the contrast between the two alternating styles featured — gentle folk/roots and layered kosmiche instrumentals – is too pronounced. It makes for uneven listening — but on the other hand, Amps for Christ seldom suffer from a lack of stylistic consistency over an album, so probably this criticism is unjustified.

The songs Forest At First Light, Vessel, and Prana Crafter’s Abode show the music approaching something special as freewheeling roots vibes merge with the spaciousness and texture of the instrumental pieces. A little more digging in the cosmic bag of tricks will further enhance songs with a mainstream scope of appeal; perhaps even achieving the consciousness-expanding effect Prana Crafter strives for, moving him down the path that artists such as Morgan Delt are currently exploring.

In any case, on the strength of the better moments on this album (and there are enough), Rupture of Planes is worth throwing into your collection: already some of the melodies are sticking in my brain, suggesting this will grow on me even more.

Limited physical copies of Rupture of Planes are available from Deep Water Acres, with this and other albums also on Bandcamp.


About the Author

Groping for trouts in a peculiar river.



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