In the River


"Spiral Joy Band are one of the descendants of Richmond VA's legendary musical juggernaut, Pelt. Active and mutating for nearly 20 years, the iteration of the Spiral Joy Band who recorded this session in Madison Wisconsin in 2011 was a trio. Troy Schafer, Patrick Best and Mikel Dimmick play an array of instruments -- violin, viola, harmonium -- to produce lush tapestries of the multiphonic drones for which they are known. I remember Pelt getting called 'The Hillbilly Theatre of Eternal Music' at the '98 Terrastock Festival in San Francisco. And indeed, that was a definite part of Pelt's sound at that point in their evolution. But since 2004, Spiral Joy Band have focused on and explored that particular niche with firm resolve. All versions of the group have reveled in the use of acoustic instruments to create tones to saturate the air with colors, while avoiding the technical shortcuts offered by electronics. The two sidelong pieces on In the River, reportedly inspired by Ka Baird (from Spires That in the Sunset Rise) and the Minneapolis string genius, Paul Metzger, are open-ended musical discussions about the existence of infinity, and how portions of infinite space might be corralled in ways that suggest continuously expanding horizons. Both the pieces are exquisite and function equally well as Furniture Music (as defined by Eric Satie) or active meditation fields, unveiling endless spools of drone in which a listener can wallow deeply. The closer you listen, the more you'll be able to hear. But even as a 'mere' soundtrack to the day, In the River offers the kind of textural beauty that makes everything feel better. Spiral Joy Band are sonic explorers dedicated to very specific corner of the universe, but it's one that contains the sort of magical powers we all need more than ever. If I were a doctor. I'd prescribe a daily dose of their music as an antidote to the rigors of reality as we know it. As Pink Floyd once suggested, 'Take Up Thy Stethscope and Walk.' Words to live by, eh?" --Byron Coley, 2022 Edition of 450.