Willow Pass is a solo project for adjunct psychology professor Richard Carr. He recently released his first effort entitled Beyond The Fades, which revolves around instrumental post-rock. As I started listening to Beyond The Fades the most obvious influence was Mogwai, in particular, early Mogwai. Carr implements melancholy reverb laced guitar that sounds similar to the ones you heard on Mogwai’s Young Team. That being said, you also can make some comparisons to Explosions in the Sky.
The album opens with a lush, expanding piece entitled “Did the Earth Move for Thee?” Guitars shimmer and glisten in the sun as frequencies bounce off each other. Carr finds transitory moments of self-enlightenment. When he transitions into the more intense areas of explorations his home recording equipment can barely handle the impact.
“Saira and the Snow” revolves around hypnotic, repetitive guitars parts while “A Thirty Year War (featuring Ravenwood)” has the most resemblance to Mogwai. Paul Ravenwood sings in this one and even mimics a style similar to Stuart Braithwaite. His vocals are low in the mix and sung in a low octave.
“To Be Heard and Not Seen” was one of the highlights for me as it deviated from a lot of the material. Carr creates waves of white noise that get layered with delayed clean guitar. I enjoyed the dichotomy between the dissonance and the beauty.
Kudos to Carr for recording, mixing and mastering his own record. For DIY effort it sounds good but not great. Truth be told if Carr wants to compete with larger acts he is going to have to record at a professional studio. There are some missteps on this album and Carr isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel but he definitely has made some enjoyable instrumental art rock.
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