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LM Duplication


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Nicely priced. One copy only.

Includes download code. 

Heather Trost’s solo debut Agistri feels built to soundtrack stop-motion animation, a riot of flower petals and pinned butterflies fluttering across the frame. As half of the global trad-folk-inspired A Hawk and a Hacksaw with Neutral Milk Hotel drummer Jeremy Barnes, the two channeled a rustic acoustic otherworld with a committed zeal. And while that band made plenty use of Trost’s violins and Barnes’ percussion, drum kits disappeared entirely from the Hawk and a Hacksaw vocabulary. But on Agistri, Trost’s music sounds timeless in a different way, building miniature haunted worlds in the vocabulary of European space pop—unflashy motorik beats layered with art school swirl—as it might be found on an LP hiding in a secondhand shop somewhere deep on the continent.

With its mysterious-sounding cadence and refrain, the album-opening title cut could equally be part of an eerie soundtrack from the 1970s. It also picks up threads from Broadcast and Stereolab in the 1990s, both playful and haunted in equal turns. Just as much about mood as melody, Agistri finds Trost accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Barnes, Deerhoof guitarist John Dieterich, and Drake Hardin and Rosie Hutchinson of Mammal Eggs. Finding a home in space age swing and piles of analog-sounding synths, flutes, and strings, Trost spans from the instrumental library music groove of "Abiquiu" to a cover of Harry Nilsson’s familiar “Me and My Arrow” as if arranged by Magical Mystery Tour-era George Martin. Agistri works from a dense palette that’s either vintage or cloned in a vat.

A sense of adventure connects the album’s far reaches, and establishes a space where lyrics feel secondary. “Plastic Flowers” is guided by a rolling organ and an abstract vocal arrangement that recalls the circus-world fun of ye olde Elephant 6 Recording Company, with which Jeremy Barnes has long been associated via Neutral Milk Hotel. Returning to drums for that band’s reunion tours—and more recently for several albums on his and Trost’s LM Dupli-Cation—Barnes likewise occupies the kit with great personality here. Rarely defaulting to grooves, even during the Brazilian feels of “Abiquiu,” his drums find paths of their own without overwhelming Trost’s songs, half-songs, and atmospheres. On “Bloodmoon,” layers of melody spread over multiple keyboards, as a sense of movement threads across the song’s three minutes. Barnes’ drums ride comparably low in the mix, his fills often feeling more like conversational tics than dramatic flourishes.

Though rich, the songs sometimes seem to function more as sound-worlds to slip into, ready for further exploration. Having also played with Beirut, Josephine Foster, and on Thor Harris’ luminous Thor & Friends, Trost’s solo turn is both awaited and worthwhile, cool and cosmopolitan throughout. On the penultimate “Real Me/Real You,” a percussive bassline (or perhaps melodic drum figure) appears in the song’s intro - a sound that’s not vintage at all but palpably of the present, or even of the present's version of the future. As the song breaks down to a vocal arrangement over a squelching keyboard and rises to its chorus, one might hope it’s Heather Trost’s version of the future, too.

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