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Cass McCombs - Tip of the Sphere (Album Review)

Tuesday, 12 February 2019 Written by Milly McMahon

Nine albums deep, songwriter Cass McCombs has settled into the expansive world of ‘Tip of the Sphere’, a long-form blend of spoken word, minimalist psych-rock and ambient guitar moods.

The LP opens slowly, building in confidence and gaining an intriguing structure as it progresses. Although the focus of much of McCombs’ magnetic work here spotlights his poetic lyrics, what feels truly illuminated is the cathartic composition of his melodies.

While outwardly pessimistic, Sidewalk Bop After Suicide and Sleeping Volcanoes are soft and charming tracks where his hypnotic, signature guitar chords provoke the listener to engage with hope.

This music feels existential, beyond the here and now, with cascading nostalgia cut with a sense of isolation. Rounder moves like a horse across expansive plains, to the backdrop of a sunset.

The imagery within the music comes not from what is said but more what is felt from the the affecting instrumentals, and this is an album that would not sit out of place as the soundtrack to a Coen Brothers film.

Compelled to create this 11 track album in a short period of time, McCombs recorded 'Tip of the Sphere' at Shahzad Ismaily’s Figure 8 studios in Brooklyn. Predominantly melancholy, and at times veering entirely off track with self-indulgent episodes such as American Canyon Sutra, this unpredictable album presents as a notebook of thoughts, woven together by music.  

In truth, 'Tip of the Sphere' is an album that is weakened when experienced only in part. Certain tracks, like I Followed The River South To What, are hard to appreciate when taken out of context, as the bigger picture is an exploration of genres, ideas and jam sessions. These days, McCombs is a brilliant artist who should be heard and respected, and this album only solidifies his spot on the cusp of greatness.

Cass McCombs Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu June 06 2019 - LONDON EartH

Click here to compare & buy Cass McCombs Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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