Listening to Ross Goldstein’s newest album Timoka is like walking through some ancient cathedral. A glacial palace filled with corridors that go on for miles, with window views of the Milky Way. The music feels like a soundtrack to something vast, beautiful, and undefinable. Using only a digital mellotron(and the sound of his cat Gretchen), Goldstein builds a gorgeous and mysterious world on Timoka, opening a sonic world of wonder for us to get lost in.
Ross Goldstein is a unique songwriter and composer. Past work was more singer/songwriter fare, though even on the chamber pop majesty of his album Inverted Jenny, it was pop that was leaning towards a bigger, symphonic sound. Van Dyke Parks, Brian Wilson, and Randy Newman echoed in his work, which going in a denser instrumental direction felt like a natural progression. The Eighth House from 2018 was the stepping off point for him, guiding us through a sonically rich and dark landscape. Now on Timoka Goldstein has committed fully to a completely cinematic LP, writing shorter but more precise pieces that feel like musically painted views of a world that’s never been.
“Obsidian Cat” has a Gothic flair to it. A chorus of angelic voices open the track, accompanied by piano, strings, and harp. There’s a melancholy to the piece that accents the underlying mystery of this world we’ve stepped into. It’s quite breathtaking. “Spooky Action at a Distance” has a very sci fi vibe about it, sporting an ominous mood. There’s something both ancient and futuristic in this track. A solemn breath of finality lives within the song’s notes. “Obsidian Cat 2” carries that original motif along with it, but find its own musical vibe to ride on.
Throughout Timoka Ross Goldstein takes careful measure to make each track its own little world. A place where the story takes place, and its significance highlighted as Goldstein sees fit. Something like “Lunar Day” puts you in mind of a more skeletal Grizzly Bear, as if Yellow House was written and recorded in a haunted church. Or the odd and dissonant album closer “Double Solitaire” with its almost avante garde quality and Far Eastern tendencies. Each song here has a story to tell, and they tell them with glee.
Take a chance and step into the world of Ross Goldstein’s Timoka. It’s the kind of album you fall into, get lost in, and indulge in its exquisite idiosyncrasies.
7.8 out of 10
Timoka will be released on January 31, 2020, on Birdwatcher Records. Preorder Timoka here.