Rusty String

by Cars & Trains

With the Rusty String LP, Portland, Oregon based multi-instrumentalist cars & trains (twenty-six year old Tom Filepp) takes a cross-country step closer to the melodic electro-folk he set out to make with the 2006 debut EP, 2 AM. Woodwinds interweave with banjos, trumpets, strings and glockenspiel, fleshing out dynamically engaging song structures. Rusty String sits somewhere between stations on the analog dial, where an old country broadcast breaches into absent-minded waves of static, synching up as if on purpose.

The album consists of handfuls of microscopic crafted worlds, shaped with tiny precision while recording in backwoods Appalachia and urban Boston. The latent energies of those places were captured and realized, mixing solitary rural twang with driving electronic elements. Spiraling off these contrasts, Filepp explores a lot of ground lyrically and through found sound. Songs paint imagery of overgrown grass reaching through cracked sidewalks, hazy suburban childhoods playing not-so-benign games, self hypnosis, and bullet ridden statues standing alone in town squares. Banjo driven four to the floor stompers yield to spacious instrumentals laden with sampled americana. Bursts of orchestral cacophony and found sound then break through to reposition the listener.

Several guest spots add to the character of the album, including Alexander Chen of Boy In Static (Mush Records) on viola, and a vocal collaboration with Sole. More sonically and thematically dense than the 2AM EP, Rusty String evokes early Morr Music releases, bands like Tarwater, intersecting with folk-oriented electronic groups like Tunng. Found sound and distorted tape samples create urban lullaby landscapes. Undaunted, meloncholic drums and timid textures are reminicent of cLOUDDEAD or Tujiko Noriko. Think of Rusty String as a walk through a city street deserted at night. Dark and melancholy, yet jubiliant with lights and neon signs, Rusty String fits together like the power-lines above that intertwine with twisting ivy.