31 October 2010

Scott Tuma - not for nobody (2008, Digitalis)

The first time I've heard of Scott Tuma, it was in 1996. He was the bassist (also one of the guitarists, I suspect) of Souled American and I felt in love with their last album “Notes Campfire”, a gem of these years were Palace Brothers, Songs:Ohia or Appendix Out were still, pure, and at their beginning. On this album Souled American was already exploring new territories and listening backwards to their discography was next deceptive because their previous records were much more traditional.

But listening to Scott Tuma now I have the impression he was the one longing for these new landscapes because it's there that he settled in his solo career.

“Not for Nobody” is his third solo album and the first one I finally decided to give listen, and now I feel guilty for this. It's mostly instrumental, in a riverbed of reverb, with intimate acoustic guitars, field recordings and evolving waves of sounds sometimes not so far from the Stars of the Lid, Labradford or Scenic, but with a strong intimate presence. 

It's a simple record, easy to listen, with warmth, introspection and positive melancholy. There is something from the simplicity of Rameses III, but the sensitivity is just so much more americana. I see clearly the connection with “Notes Campfire”, but without the alt-country dimension or translated into an ambient form.

It could be average, the instruments and the ambient form are very common, his attitude is humble and sincere, he's not extremely ambitious and the emotions shared are strong but basic, but “Not for nobody” becomes quickly very familiar and appeasing, like a walk late at night to calm your thoughts before falling asleep. 

You are somewhere on the road, alone, in the desert, under the stars, lost in a territory between Palace Brothers and Labradford and you can only feel great and beholden about that. Maybe the best thing with “Not For Nobdoy” is what happens between the tracks, how they begin and end with subtlety, and their pastoral atmosphere, which both are as important as their melody and their quality. Scott Tumas's voice on two tracks is artificially high-pitched and while it's not purely musical it has ghostlike,haunted, almost angelic, qualities. 

Beautiful and ecstatic.

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