May 26, 2023

Bill Orcutt - The Anxiety of Symmetry

Following his excellent new album Jump On It from earlier this year, Bill Orcutt has surprised release the third installment in his "counting" series, the magnetic The Anxiety of Symmetry.

Earlier this year, Bill Orcutt brought his album Music For Four Guitars to life and took it on the road with three other guitarists. His stop at Roulette in Brooklyn has been one of my favorite shows of the year and the quartet's appearance on Tiny Desk Concerts was a fun, nearly viral moment that propelled the songwriter into a dim spotlight, even if it was just for a moment. Following those spellbinding performances, the artist returned today with the third and final installment in his "counting" series following the records PURE GENIUS and A MECHANICAL JOEY. While his previous two solo records are made entirely of instrumental, mesmerizing guitar work, The Anxiety of Symmetry is a record of looped counting (the repetition of 1, 1-2, 1-2-3, 1-2-3-4) that brings the stoic vocals into the mix with ambient sounds that recall Brian Eno or Philip Glass. It's a cosmic sounding album that is both alien and at times perhaps jarring, but the end result is a thing of pure wonder and amazement. The repetitive nature congeals into something wild and wonderful, capturing fleeting emotions that push the listener through a bit of an endurance test (although nothing similar to the experimental and free-wheeling sounds he conjures with drummer Chris Corsano) that begs you to relinquish any kind of notion of what traditional music can and should sound like and instead favors something that enters the sublime. It's a fully encompassing listen and one that draws you in with each passing second, grabbing hold and continuing to engulf you with a tight grip. It's a mathematical album and one that will surely buck a casual listener, but if you can submerge yourself into the lush sonic pool, it's a refreshing escape from something a bit more conventional. A piece of real modern art that holds its own and stands forth as a compelling piece of experimental music that given the right time and circumstances creates a world all unto itself and invites you in for moments of pure pleasure and comfort.

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