Andrew Weathers: One Day We'll Find The Valley
Lifelike Family

Recorded at various locations in Oakland, California and at the Weathers home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in summer and autumn of 2013, One Day We'll Find The Valley finds restless sound explorer Andrew Weathers presenting highly personalized—idiosyncratic, even—interpretations of songs from the Sacred Harp hymnbook. The six settings, each dramatically different in kind, unite various strands within Weathers' music-making practice. His connection to the folk music tradition is well-accounted for but so too is his interest in bold electronic treatments and adventurous experimental manipulation.

Though the album title hints at a gospel dimension, its track titles show that its thirty-six minutes focus on issues of spirituality (the titular valley, of course, alludes to life after death—“a reward for a life lived well,” in Weathers' own words). It's very much a solo recording, with Weathers credited with guitars (electric and acoustic), electronics, samples, synthesizers, and voice, though voice contributions also come from John Weathers and Janie Benson.

One Day We'll Find The Valley is admittedly somewhat of a curio in the way Weathers twists each song into unusual form. As an example, “We Will Sing With Angels There” opens the album with the slowly rising sounds of a church choir, its members' swaying voices swelling in unison with all the kind of impassioned fervour one would expect. But Weathers manipulates the material into a blurry mass that sounds at times like it's located underwater, a move pushed to an even more radical extreme during the collage-styled meditation “There Will Be No Sorrow There.” “Sing to Me of Heaven” eschews vocals for a slow-burning, funereal drone heavy on electric guitar shadings and synthesizer flutter, while the electronic-folk piece “Save, Lord, or We Perish” sees Weathers indulging his interest in both bluesy fingerpicking and Eastern dronescaping. All of the pieces are modest in length except for the closer “We'll Meet Beyond the Grave,” a droning phantasmagoria of hyperactive synthesizer patterns and murmuring speaking voices that unspools across twelve trippy minutes.

The second song, “To Die No More,” appears to embrace a comparatively natural style in opening with delicate acoustic guitar picking, but things take an unusual turn when the vocal enters: in place of a natural presentation, the singer intones the words in a low-pitched, even frog-like croak. Such unexpected detours recur throughout the recording, but the effect isn't displeasing. One awaits the arrival of each song unsure of what to expect, and consequently the recording becomes as much of an adventure for the listener as one presumes it was for its creator.

November 2014