Shelley Salant records under the name Shells. A member of beloved Detroit-based exploratory "rock" ensembles like Tyvek, Saturday Looks Good To Me, and Swimsuit, Salant's solo work pares back layers of instrumentation and external reference points to reveal a warm core of unadorned, informal guitar performance. Presented as a series of interconnected lo-fi sketches, her tape Another Time rolls through gentle melodic frameworks and guitar progressions of varying levels of grit and distortion. Salant's takes achieve an almost diaristic atmosphere in their intimate beauty, with moments that evoke any number of physical settings: dangling legs off the pier, sitting on the porch at sunset, gazing at the water from the rock-strewn beach depicted on the tape's cover. Salant's nuanced approach to texture and tonal fidelity proves just as important in the context of her sessions as her harmonic sensibilities, as her decisions in amplification and recording methods yield striking artifacts throughout her tracks: bursts of mix-consuming percussive strum, disfigured and clipped tones, peals of feedback, and instances of cavernous reverb. When Another Time crests in intensity from time to time, as Salant chops into faster chugging rhythms and distorted leads, these moments seem like a natural contrast to the delicate austerity of her calmer passages, as if all are just passing moods in a complex cycle, compressed into miniature units of time and presented one by one to form the tape's overarching narrative. Shells' music encourages repeat listens, not only to rediscover the pleasure of her melodies, but to spend another round following her through the emotional peaks and valleys and the physical worlds sketched out by her sessions.
Artwork by Nick Spolarich
released October 31, 2018
All music by Shells except "Take Me Away" by Bonny Doon quoted on Side A 6:50-7:50
Contemporary, yet steeped in an understanding and love of the genre, Kirchner's compositions are first rate, the covers judiciously selected, and the playing throughout is absolutely first rate. Hard to pick anyone out, but the bass clarinet is just sublime.
Stellar performances and terrific compositions. This is seriously good jazz, deeply spiritual in many ways, but with a confident, energised spring in its step.
Sure to be one of the standout jazz releases of 2018. Michael Mueller