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Storm Ross: Welcome, Sunshine

The 2014 album, The Green Realm, from Ann Arbor based musician Storm Ross was enthusiastically received in drone and psych circles. Ross himself describing his enigmatic sound as 'loop based psych/drone guitar and electronics'. That's a clear and true description, but there's a lot more than that going on in his follow up album, Welcome, Sunshine.

The title of the opening track conveys this instrumental album's outlook, "We Need To Be Fugazi Now, More Than Ever" an unequivocal statement. Yet rather than hammer this message home in bold, uncompromising fashion, instead Ross has called on the more considered services of the sax of Andrew Bishop and the bass of Tim Flood. His wife, Amanda, brings her keyboard skills, while Ross's Skeleton Birds bandmate Jeremy Edwards provides percussive drum craft. There's no doubt this inclusive nature is the masterstroke here, Ross able to bring a much wider breadth of flavours to his emotional sounds. In places the ensemble's contributions may be minimal and yet in other sections they are given the freedom to set the tone of everything you hear.

The pop and punch of "You Will End!" is a prime example, the busy cymbal and snare work from Edwards allowing Ross's guitar to howl and scream without ever becoming overbearing, while the jarring, "The Smiler" is a more conventional, if no less explosive, swirl of anguish from the fretboard and drums. However, it the willingness of this album to refuse to simply supply a singular outlook that really sets it up for success. The almost gleeful skirl of "Hold Your Head High In The End Times", or fragile, pleadings of "Please Don't Kill My Family", where the sax work toys with your emotions, allowing what could be a very singular vision to have many differing and rewarding points of view. Although it may well be the sax emboldened "Atheon" which sits at the heart of this album both in message and sound. When you add in the tuneful, but wind strewn "Benzie County Farm Fire, 1973" and eerie solitude of "A Life Of Passwords", Welcome, Sunshine quickly becomes a hugely diverse, yet focused statement.

I'm not usually someone who connects well with drone. My innate need for melody and hook a stumbling block this genre can seldom overcome and yet, as the name Welcome, Sunshine itself suggests, this album has a way of gently persuading you to its way of thinking. Even if it is a collection of music that refuses to compromise. That in itself is reason to investigate.

Be quick though, for now, this album is only available in physical form in stunning limited yellow vinyl (which includes a download copy), or cassette…

Track Listing
1. We Need to be Fugazi Now, More Than Ever
2. Please Don't Kill My Family
3. Benzie County Farm Fire, 1973
4. You Will End!
5. A Life of Passwords
6. Lamentation
7. Atheon
8. I Will Try to be Better
9. The Smiler
10. Hold Your Head High in the End Times

Added: March 5th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Storm Ross on bandcamp
Hits: 1145
Language: english

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