Dave Harrington is a sound collage maker. He’s known as a guitarist, but he’s far more than that. With the smooth guitar vibes of David Gilmour mixed with the eclectic ear of Brian Eno, Harrington builds intriguing castles of noise that touch the limits of ambient, jazz fusion, and even post-rock at times. My first dealings with Dave Harrington were with the collaborative music project he did with electronic musician Nicholas Jaar. That album, the exquisite Psychic, was a low key mix of space-y Pink Floyd vibes mixed with some Bon Iver sensibilities. It was a dark and astonishing record.
Now Dave Harrington has returned with Dave Harrington Group. Their new album, the kinetic and experimental Pure Imagination, No Country, has all the makings of a future classic. A mixture of late night New York jazz splattered with the scope of some freeform improv session in a 24/7 recording studio, Dave Harrington lets things get as weird and proggy as they want.
This is the kind of album that the band’s namesake doesn’t steal the spotlight. Dave Harrington Group is very much a group, and group effort. He allows his tasteful and frantic guitar lines to be intertwined with buzzing electronics, fuzzy bass lines, and driving, Tony Williams-like drumming so that everything as a whole comes together beautifully.
There’s a lot to get lost in here, but for my money “Then I Woke Up” is an absolute stunner. It hits all the marks; jazzy interplay, experimental noodling, and a serious one-two punch from the rhythm section. The song moves along like a sonic shot of early 70s fusion like the late great jazz guitarist Larry Coryell used to make.
Elsewhere, album opener “Well” sounds like Until The Light Comes-era Flying Lotus and “Dreams Field” has the cavernous sound of Brian Eno in Music For Films mode. There is also the 11-minute experimental dirge of “Patch One”, which comes across like some science fiction score. The album ends on the absolutely stunning cover of “Pure Imagination”. A cross between Thurston Moore noise and Bill Frisell constraint.
Pure Imagination, No Country is a stunning album of musical precision and far out sonic exploration.
7.9 out of 10