Damien Jurado makes a sublime noise, one characterized by found sound, ambient textures and a added suggestion of shoe-gaze and cryptic folk. That’s what makes him a singular musician and a challenge to typecast. Adding to that difficulty is that fact that his albums verve unpredictably in different directions, going from traces of electronica to moments of dark discovery. Consequently, one may be prone to view a new release with some degree of trepidation, not knowing for sure what he’ll offer on first glance.
Not surprisingly then, Visions Of Us On The Land ventures in the same direction, a set of 17 songs that’s as sprawling as its title suggests. There are indeed moments of transient, luminous beauty, as uncovered on such tracks as “November 20,” “Mellow Blue Polka Dot,” “Orphans In The Key Of E,” “Kola,” and “Queen Anne,” which typically, are still hard to fully define in any cognizant way. Still, there’s no need for further analysis. That’s best left to Jurado and producer Richard Swift who have done an admirable job in splicing together these various themes in a most hypnotic way. In fact, most of these tracks typically defy any comprehensive definition. “QACHINA” (caps intentional) flows and unravels in a steady stream of melody. Likewise, the hushed sweep and flow of “Cinco De Tomorrow” is nothing less than completely and wholly captivating. The same can be said for the wide-eyed “Sam And Davy” and the upturned gaze given “ONALASKA” (again, caps all intentional). The point is, yet again, these are songs that surprise and mesmerize, and while they’re hardly of the hummable variety, the music inevitably creates an indelible impression.
Damien Jurado will likely never be one to compete in the mainstream, but that has no bearing on the music he makes. Mostly, it’s all about the sound and the sonics. “Experimental” made be too mundane a term to describe what we’re treated to herein, but until a better word comes along it will simply have to suffice.