Song of the Day: Express Rising “Unfamiliar Lights”

Express Rising Fixed Rope (II)

Song of the Day: Express Rising “Unfamiliar Lights”

Head-nodding new age for beatheads

Express Rising have returned with a beautiful new album, Fixed Rope (II), the follow up to 2015’s Fixed Rope. Fixed Rope (II) is the fourth release from musician / DJ / archivist / producer Dante Carfagna under the Express Rising name, but only his second release with a full band. As a solo artist, Dante Carfagna released a handful of singles and two beautiful albums (on the Memphix imprint) of hazy, bucolic instrumental boom-bap, largely assembled from samples of the homegrown outsider funk and soul recordings Carfagna is well-known for collecting and DJing (he counts DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist among his record-digging buddies). Masterpieces of mood and texture, the initial Express Rising releases are essentially head-nodding new age for beatheads.

With the third album, Fixed Rope, Carfagna expanded his scope to form a trio with musicians Kevin Blagg and William Suran. Moving away from samples to live instrumentation, including pedal steel guitar, banjo, piano and keyboards backed by vintage analog drum machines, the now-band continues similar explorations in mood, but with a collaborative element that allows for organic improvisation instead of isolated solo home studio perfectionism. Fixed Rope (II) continues this approach, refining their songwriting process and tightening their focus. On “Unfamiliar Lights” a fragile electric guitar and piano figure is wrapped in cavernous echo and anchored by a skittering rhythm track while forlorn strings drift by. The blend of organic instrumentation with electronic rhythm feels natural and timeless. This is intimate music for quiet summer evenings. Highly recommended.

Fixed Rope (II) is out now and available via Numero Group.


Dante CarfagnaDante Carfagna observed in his native habitat (image courtesy Dust & Grooves)