A transcendent emotional odyssey of a record, Taylor Barefoot’s solo debut, Distressed Signals, is at once ethereal and bracing—an effortless fusion of shoegaze, dreampop and post-rock. Layers of gauzy, beautifully flawed, effects-laden guitar pour from the speakers over gently pulsing sampled beats and analog drum machines, unfolding cinematic dreamscapes both magnificent and forlorn.
“I express myself best through music, so naturally the album ended up being instrumental,” Barefoot says. “To attempt to put everything I’ve been through, everything I was feeling, into words would complicate it too much for me. I’m more of an abstract painter.”
Distressed Signals was born of a desire for something more. Its roots lie in a turbulent move from Boston to Los Angeles, the painful dissolution of a past relationship and the promising start of a new one, the isolation of the pandemic, a temporarily crippling bike accident and, ultimately, a newfound resolve, forged in fire, that took Barefoot from sideman to solo artist, while allowing him to musically and psychologically confront a once-paralyzing mix of depression and anxiety.
“A lot of this record is me deconstructing my life back in Boston,” he says. “Things were pretty settled; I had a condo, a serious girlfriend, a recording studio, I was in a band that was performing regularly—still, something didn’t feel right to me. I had this creeping desire to pull the band-aid off, to leave everything behind. I twisted myself in knots trying to suppress it—after a while, I was so restless and anxious I was coming apart at the edges. So, finally, that was it. I was gone.”
Gide is premiering the transcendent single “Lines,” a post-rock thriller that purs and voyages with an enthralling musical mission. Like Mogwai and Tortoise, Barefoot obliterates musical convention and re-writes the script for something way more badass.
“I often have this unrealistic expectation that other people—if I treat them how I want to be treated—will do the same for me. Of course, that’s not always the case. Sometimes you try to draw boundaries, but the dynamic is already locked in place. That’s where the feeling of futility on this track comes from. Not just in realizing that you yourself are flawed, but that others you care about are even more flawed. It’s terrible how out of control people can be, and what it can do to you. That’s a big part of what I was trying to capture with ‘Lines.'”