with TALL TALL TREES
“Sonderlust” is an album forged through heartbreak. After his two previous studio albums (“151a” & “Lighght”), Kishi Bashi was at a musical impasse. “As I sat down to write songs last summer, I went to all my usual conduits of creation: violin loops, guitar, piano, and I came up with the musical equivalent of fumes”, says K Ishibashi. “I tried to create orchestral pop recordings that I assumed were my forte, and in turn I found myself standing in front of a creative wall of frightening heights.”
At this very same moment of musical uncertainty, K’s personal life was falling apart… He and his wife of 13 years had briefly separated and were struggling to keep their marriage together. In his own words, “Touring and its accompanying lifestyle took a heavy toll on my soul and my family”. As an outlet, K submerged himself in a new musical direction. “Sonderlust” emerged as a direct result of this personal struggle taking place at an artistic crossroads.
With the help of producer Chris Taylor (Grizzly Bear), engineer Pat Dillet (Angelique Kidjo, David Byrne) and drummer Matt Chamberlain (Morrissey, Fiona Apple, of Montreal), Kishi Bashi has created his most personal and artistically adventurous work to date. “This album is straight from my soul. I questioned everything about what it means to love and desire. The difference between loving someone and being in love.”
To say that Mike Savino is an innovator would be an understatement. Touring under the moniker Tall Tall Trees, the banjo-wielding bard has reshaped the landscape of what is possible with the instrument. On stage and in studio, Savino breaks down the banjo into its most basic iteration, reminding audiences that the banjo is, at root, a drum. Coupled with his mastery of electronic effects, loops, toy ray guns, and heaps of spontaneous creativity, Tall Tall Trees has been encapsulating audience members worldwide with his mystifying solo shows, as well as playing alongside fellow innovator Kishi Bashi.
His latest album ‘Freedays’ is, in a way, his debut album. Having recorded two previous albums in a traditional collaborative band setting, ‘Freedays’ is the first album Savino wrote and recorded as a solo project. Beginning in 2015, Savino took a much-needed respite from New York City, where he had spent a decade and a half honing his craft, and assumed the role of sole caretaker at an abandoned health retreat nestled in the green mountains of northern Georgia. The Bird’s Nest, as it was called, completely surrounded by national forest, provided the freedom and space to work without time constraints or interruption.
Composed and recorded over a period of eight months, ‘Freedays’ tells the story of a man in transition and documents an artist alone at the crossroads of the life he has and the one he wants. The album begins with “Backroads”, which drops the listener into a darkened forest amidst a chorus of wailing coyotes and quickly takes off on a midnight drive. Tracks like “Being There”, “A Place to Call Your Own”, and “CLC” provide an honest look into the author’s thought process and decision making. Although it’s often hard to imagine, most of the sounds on the album are experiments with the banjo, and they all reflect the innovative musings of one of the freshest sounds to come out of the Appalachians in decades.