CALIFONE villagers (coke bottle clear)

“Blending pillow-soft pop, existential dread, layered drone folk, and inexhaustible rays of hope into a prismatic burst more focused than anything in their catalog.”


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The end of the world may not come in a big, unavoidable sign, furious light and impenetrable noise. The end of things might just be slow, mystic, blanketing, entropy steadily fraying everything out at the edges. Instead of a grand explosion, you, me, a flower, a dog, a musty old house, a thread-bare cassette—all revealed as composed of the same particles drifting apart and commingling. The latest from Califone, villagers, feels like sitting on the porch swing and looking out at that entropic sunset.
“It’s my job to make people happy in a very sad way,” Tim Rutili wryly muses. With 25 years of Califone in his catalog (not to mention a variety of other projects, including alt rock heroes Red Red Meat), the Chicago-born, Los Angeles-based artist knows well how to find that moment of awe and bliss even when things are falling apart.
And now for the group’s first record since 2020’s Echo Mine, he dials into that sweet spot with an immaculate cast of collaborators spread across recording sessions in four different cities. The record’s nine compositions stretch out just as far, incorporating elements of classic radio pop and electronic experimentation into the mix. And then there are tracks like the chilled and rippling “Eyelash”, built out of the bones of an improvised drone, field recordings of rain run through a modular synth, and a tight rhythm section. “I wanted to make it feel like Voodoo-era D’Angelo meets The Long Goodbye-era Robert Altman,” Rutili recalls of the track, as much sculpture as song.
“It just feels comfortable to take elements of Captain Beefheart, soft rock from the ’70s, and brittle digital elements,” Rutili says. “There are words that shouldn’t go together and images that are smashed together that maybe shouldn’t be, but it just feels right.” Throughout Villagers, the moments of eerie distortion or surprise come as quickly to the fore as they disappear behind themselves, masterful brushstrokes cast in mercuric music. Even as the world stretches into stranger and stranger shapes, Califone continues to reach newfound heights of harmony and unity beyond their already mythic chemistry. Villagers songs are full of people coming to terms with the gaps between perception and reality, with the very concept of reality, with time slinking constantly towards an unseen cliff—an album where even songs of devotion focus on loving the other’s imperfections and broken hearts. “Un-careful footsteps/ At the first blush of a hurricane/ All the cocaine happy endings/ My love remains,” Rutili hushes, the quintessential, surreal acoustic pop ballad stretching off into the sunset, omens and all.

SKU: JBR228LPC : 843563141489 Category: