Exposé Online banner

Larkin Grimm — Chasing an Illusion
(Northern Spy NS 088, 2017, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2017-07-11

Chasing an Illusion Cover art

Question of the day: What would happen if an American folk singer became obsessed with Alice Coltrane’s cosmic jazz? Larkin Grimm’s Chasing an Illusion is one credible answer to the question, combining banjo, fiddle, slide guitar, saxophones, harp, bass, and drums with Grimm’s voice on a set of tunes dripping with quiet energy, spirituality, and invention. The seed of the album was planted when Grimm attended Ornette Coleman’s funeral, where Ravi Coltrane performed, and appeared as a resolve to record songs featuring the harp in tribute to a woman whose music had comforted her in difficult times. These eight tracks have a very natural, loose feel, having been recorded live in the studio by a dozen or so musicians and presented “letting the out of tune and out of time parts celebrate our humanity and imperfection,” as Grimm says in the promo sheet. The music is full of surprises and unexpected juxtapositions, with the overdriven bass in “Keeping You Alive” being one of my favorites. The drums keep a slow groove, a harp outlines the chords, the voices intertwine lines with intimate, breathy tones, a flute twitters commentary joined by someone whistling, all with fuzzy throbbing from the bass. The most obvious Alice Coltrane reference comes with “Fear Transforms into Love (Journey in Turiyasangitananda)” with its droning strings, trancelike drums, and flights of fancy from the harp. At other times, banjo functions almost like a sitar, providing twanging metallic lines. “On the Floor” is backed with distorted chords that sound like an electric piano through a fuzz pedal, though there’s none listed in the credits — in any case, it’s a interesting sound, and a bold choice in the arrangement. Chasing an Illusion is full of such bold choices, and presents a unique take on the singer-songwriter genre which succeeds at every level. Highly recommended.


Filed under: New releases, 2017 releases

Related artist(s): Larkin Grimm

Latest news

2017-09-06
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more

2017-08-22
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more

2017-07-27
Yestival Dates Beef up the Beat – Word reaches us that Dylan Howe (son of guitarist Steve Howe) will be joining Yes on their "Yestival" tour, drumming alongside longtime band member Alan White. » Read more

2017-05-19
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more

2017-05-05
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Steve Gorn, Tony Levin, Jerry Marotta - From the Caves of the Iron Mountain – Take a woodwind player and the early 80s rhythm section for Peter Gabriel (circa Security), put them together in a cave and you'd be surprised what they come up with! The second release from King...  (1998) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues