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Dark Sky Alliance — Interdwell
(Spotted Peccary SPM-4801, 2024, CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2024-05-16

Interdwell Cover art

New on Spotted Peccary Music, Dark Sky Alliance is something of an ambient / electronic supergroup made up of veteran musicians, and Interdwell is their debut release. The one musician that one might expect to see here is David Helpling, guitarist, synthesist and cinematic sonic creator, who has been with the Spotted Peccary label for close to 30 years with a dozen albums to his credit, both solo and in collaboration with other artists on the label; drummer and percussionist Jerry Marotta should require no introduction either, after nearly a decade with Orleans, as well as many years working with Peter Gabriel, Hall and Oates, Indigo Girls, and others; keyboardist Rupert Greenall has a long history with The Fixx going back to their 1981 debut Lost Planes; and rounding out the quartet is soundscaping synthesist Eric “The” Taylor, a veteran of the Architects of Existence plus some solo recordings and other collaborations. So how did this grouping come about? Way back in 2016, Greenall, Taylor, and Marotta, together with Robert Rich recorded an album as The Fragile Fate titled Lilliam Ocean, an ambient downtempo recording that put three of the four members together for the first time, although Taylor and Marotta recorded a session years earlier with Tony Levin. In fact Interdwell hosts many guest players as well, including Robert Rich (flute, synthesizer, grand piano), Jamie West Oram (electric guitars), Joe Locke (vibraphone), Tony Levin (bowed double bass), Forrest Fang (sampled percussion), and the late Sonam Targee (vocal chants, Tibetan bells, trumpet), together offering a rich and varied tapestry of instrumentation. After a short, atmospheric opener called “Search,” we arrive at the first major epic, “Fortunate One,” which features Targee’s chanting and bells, the group delivering a powerful symphonic backdrop full of mysterious sonic embellishments. “Warm Inlet” rocks a bit more with Marotta alternating between a full drum kit and taos drums, with traces of The Fixx clearly evident (Oram was a member as well) behind Targee’s trumpet. Other standouts include the eleven-minute epic “The Slow Train Home,” a dreamy meandering piece highlighted by bowed bass and guitar atmospherics, while “Latch” reveals dark sonic imagery juxtaposed with vibraphone, leading into the title track, where a synth drenched undercurrent with tribal percussives makes way for some elastic guitar pyrotechnics. Twelve tracks in all generating plenty of energy, alternating between world influenced, tribal, and more floating pieces, all featuring those Spotted Peccary production values.

Filed under: New releases, 2024 releases

Related artist(s): Forrest Fang, David Helpling, Robert Rich, Tony Levin, Jerry Marotta, Dark Sky Alliance

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