OP 043LP OP 043LP

High Water presents Crush. Crush is great flood music, an emotional deep-dive by way of sonic spell. It is the debut album by High Water high priest Will Epstein, who has strung his folksy, bare-souled heart-songs across a starry firmament and into a bottomless blue. The sound is a mongrel, electro-acoustic jazz: crisp production that cradles Epstein's silvery holler and the finger-picked click-clack of his electric Rhodes piano. His distinctive, loping cadence cuts through the noise and ferries us up a pilgrim path, yearning for a present truth, a pure love. He's recorded and performed with Nicolas Jaar, a dear friend since childhood. The High Water multi-instrumentalist solo-style gestated while opening up several tours for Darkside, Jaar's band with Dave Harrington. John Coltrane is his patron saint, and John Zorn his relentless guru. He has grown a deep love for Bob Dylan and his endless, shape-shifter's myth. These three titanic influences share a spiritualism, a volatile energy to create and destroy the self, to sublimate raw humanity into something impossible and eternal. Familiar sounds are stretched past their limits, and lyrics are charged with the power of a ritual text. These nine songs are incantations that conjure little worlds, micro-cosmos, circular love letters. Epstein employs elemental language, as well as the oblique Americana of railroad songs, rising rivers, and "sleepwalking through the pines." Crush is a beguiling, evocative music that, from track to track, recalls a series of short films, a sculptural forest, or a kaleidoscopic fever dream. The gentle lull that begins "Moonlight Mind" kabooms into a pulsing beat with a soulful twitch. Snappy drums are chopped and reassembled; Harrington's guitar pinches tones in bit-crushed screams and inspired blue country twangs. The soft "Forecast," pooled in reverb, spikes under synthesized high beams and sputtering organ. A guttural sax masquerades as a digital insect frantically cleaning its mandibles. A soft-dub rework of Lucinda Williams' "Changed the Locks" confirms the love/hurt essence of Crush. Ancient murals spell "Seattle," a distant place where sensual heat is felt and peaceful melodies fume out of dark tombs. Through all this and the last three songs-- the contemplative final stanza--the prevailing imagery is that of the rain. The album is laced in a life-affirming naturalism, and whenever the gale-force productions come to a head, the pillowy clouds of sound burst into a cleansing shower, drizzling like a granulated rainstick.