The new split album by Asheville-based Wes Tirey and Andrew Weathers (from Oakland, Calif. by way of Chapel Hill, N.C.) is titled, aptly, split. And while the Scissor Tail Records release is a mere three tracks, don’t expect a quick listen. The shortest song clocks in at over 10 minutes. But this folk and drone combination is the indie-music answer to a relaxation soundtrack — it breathes, it wafts, it nearly stops time. That’s a good thing.
So delicately paced is the album that it takes the first song (Tirey’s “My Grandfather’s 12 Guage”) about 20 seconds to build to an audible level. It’s like easing into a swimming pool. But once in, the song ripples and flows around lithe finger-style guitar. Without lyrics to guide, the mind wanders through sun-soaked fields of dry grass, down dusty paths and into cool swaths of shade. In the song’s second half, a slide combined with a thrumming drone provides a metallic texture.
Tirey’s second track, “Requiem for Pistol Pete Maravich” continues the gun theme, though it speaks more to nature, adventure, wide skies and countryside rambles than to armaments. Who was Pistol Pete? Turns out, according to Wikipedia, he was a basketball player — the all-time leading NCAA Division I scorer, at that. And there’s a point around the song’s four-minute mark where the guitar strums dribble staccato-like before smoothing back into the gentle finger-picked rhythm. Interestingly, Pistol Pete retired from his sport and took up studies of yoga and Hinduism before dying of a heart defect moments after announcing, “I feel great.” There’s something of that biography in the song’s trancey mysticism and expansive, melodic trajectory. It feels lived in, storied, simultaneously magical and human.
Weathers’ “Stay 100,” a 20-minute track, rounds out the album. It’s 30 seconds in before the low hum can be perceived, though there’s a kind of breathless anticipation leading up to that first sustained note. The drone continues, like a struck gong or a thrown pebble, it’s concentric ripples underscoring an elegantly simple melody. Here, the guitar is electric and the mood is the sort of delicious introspection that comes in between day and night, in the opulence of the blue hour when trees take on supernatural forms and fireflies spark the darkening sky. It’s a moment both fleeting and forever, and Weathers deftly bottles its warm tones and chakra-reverberating murmurs.