David Kilgour The Far Now [Merge]


Rating: 6.0

Kudos to Mr. Kilgour for pulling more rabbits out of his hat than you’ve got fingers and toes. The New Zealander has been co-writing rock history since forming The Clean in the early eighties and continues to deliver on clean, ephemeral pop rock. This album sounds like the product of a series of casual jam sessions meshed with Kilgour’s pure whimsy.

The Far Now fuses Kilgour’s solo recordings with full-on accompaniment from his band the Heavy 8s. Because of the album’s resulting schizophrenia, the best moments are songs stripped naked, like “I Cut My Heart Out Once.” Outside of those moments of clarity, there’s not enough negative space to go around.

This could have been another album entirely if it had been produced differently. That’s true of most albums, of course, but it’s true here to an extent that I haven’t heard since Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Thanks to conservative mixing, many of the songs are low-key and relaxed where they could have been unkempt and overproduced, as in “Yenisei.” The Far Now isn’t too much of a psychadelic freak-out, but songs like “I’m Going To Get Better Lately” remind us that it could have been. The songs generally stay within bounds where they could have gotten lost in a maze of guitar and synth effects, but that particular song is teetering on the brink.

Thankfully, David Kilgour knows when to pull out all the stops and when to tone it down. His guitar work reflects his veteran status and, accordingly, barely skirts perfection. “Out Of The Moment” casually meanders through a thick fog of nag champa and pot smoke, evoking Ali Farka Toure flavored blues and gritty Neil Young guitar riffs. Others, like “Too Long From Me,” promise to soar but never get airborne. The subtle strings in songs like “On Your Own” add a beautiful texture, but that song, too, goes nowhere. Each track is a fractured moment, and the pieces ultimately fail to form a bigger picture. The album lacks a center of gravity. There are beautiful touches all over, but the whole is nothing spectacular. It is one among many respectable releases from David Kilgour and not much else.

-Lily Cutler

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