Album Reviews

Infinite River: Prequel

Michigan underground veterans join forces to deliver a stunning debut.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, collaboration has seemingly been the way forward for many independent artists. Perhaps it was the case prior to the world-changing events over three years ago, but as it stands, it feels like the world of collaboration hasn’t been stronger. People talk about creation offering endless possibilities. Whilst true, the fundamentals of collaboration are vital to that.

Which brings us to the next sonic journey that steals a piece of the heart every time you listen to it: Infinite River’s debut album, Prequel.

Comprising of Detroit underground lifers, Gretchen Gonzales Davidson (Slumber Party, Terror at the Opera, Universal Indians), Joey Mazzola (Detroit Cobras, Sponge, Sugarcoats) and Warren Defever (ESP Beetles, His Name Is Alive), the trio create the kind of celestial vigour and woodsy finesse that almost defies logic.

Empty House: Secret Suburbia

The sonic sculptures of Prequel were outlined during the height of lockdown, with the recordings made in a home studio in Birmingham, Michigan. It’s hard to fathom another set of instrumental recordings that possess so many layers and so much depth. The trio almost unlock the door to hidden parts of the mind purely through sound. The only artist remotely in the same ballpark is Blake Conley’s droneroom project. Said to be “the soundtrack to a space desert film you can’t wait to watch”, this is just one of the many snapshots that Prequel calls to mind.  

Each song titled one through six, coming in at just under 12 minutes Track 1 is arguably the defining moment of Prequel. Guest drummer, Steve Nistor (Sparks, Ural Thomas, Seedsmen to the World), shapes the song with his gentle cymbal washes, and with Defever’s harmonium (which drifts all the way through the album), it opens up the space for Gonzales Davidson and Mazzola’s exquisite guitar work, culminating in a blissed-out expedition like no other.

Infinite River - Prequel

Creating the vibe that you’d associate with, say, the Gibbons brothers, in many ways it’s a disservice to compare Gonzales Davidson and Mazzola’s stunning interplay. So unhurried, telepathic and innovative, few have been able to extract the same emotional force as the pair do here.

It continues on Track 2, hovering over the campfire as Infinite River totally mesmerise their guests with subtle riffs that twist and turn in beautifully hypnotic ways. Track 3 echoes more of that Bardo Pond freefall vibe, however Infinite River inject the right amount of saccharine to make this a summer jam for sun-drenched open fields.

Winterwood: Exploratory Guitar: Cavelands

Pulling us from those sunny fields towards the bellows of a hash den, the eastern tinged Track 4 sees Infinite River show us another of their many facets, with Defever’s tanpura forming the bedrock for Gonzales Davidson and Mazzola to project spacious riffs that bend into hazy cosmic shapes.

While Track 5 is psych and space rock played out in slow-motion, the closing Track 6 feels like a band in their natural habitat. A barnyard meander that you think you’ve heard before, only to then realise it’s a band covering every blade of grass across the experimental music terrain in three minutes and 23 seconds of utter glory.

Simple on the face of it, however the most striking aspect with Prequel is that you can never quite fully grasp it. Filled with contemplative sounds that somehow amalgamate the future with the past, Infinite River provide sonic sketches that imbue hope but also recall the pain from years gone by. That’s what makes this band essential: music completely relatable no matter one’s background. The normies; the punks; the hippies; the indie kids; the acid-damaged space rockers; the lifers; and, of course, the psych hounds. Prequel is the album that will bind communities together. A communion of the beautiful noise, and make no mistake, Infinite River are the clear purveyors of it.

Prequel is out now via Birdman Records. Purchase from Bandcamp.

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

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