(New Album Review) Andrew Weathers- One Day We’ll Find the Valley

One Day We’ll Find the Valley is Oakland musician Andrew Weathers’s undertaking to transform hymns from the Sacred Harp Hymnal using modern instrumentation and production. Weathers performs virtually all of the album himself, though John Weathers and Janie Benson provide additional vocals. The album is, according to Weathers, part of a bigger, career-long project to play around with the idea of reinventing American folk music. Weathers has been influenced mostly by American minimalist composers and noise, and has a BM in Music Composition and an MFA in Electronic Music, but this album isn’t exactly dry or intensive-listening stuff.

For the most part, the album comes on like a whirlwind of tinny, crackling electronica and disembodied voices– the album has a light tone. The compositions float and blur, with little organic touches lighting up the sonic palette, and making the connection to the past clearer. Though the album is sort of disjointed, like a very rushed tour of the sonic museum Weathers wants to show us, it is, at the very least, a very pretty example of how elecroacoustic music can be employed to attempt to reinvent music from the past. The voices on One Day We’ll Find the Valley sound slowed-down and distant– is there any more intuitive way of trying to electrically reinterpret music from the past than by amplifying and distancing it, to increase its romantic aura?

The greatest success of the whole undertaking is “To Die No More”, an electroacoustic adaptation of the 18th century hymn “Why should we start and fear to die?” Weathers’ decision to autotune his voice gives the morbid joyousness of Isaac Watts’s lyrics a haunting afterglow. It’s a short piece, but it strongly colored my impression of the rest of this album.

Almost equally impressive is the closer, “We’ll Meet Beyond the Grave”. One has to hand it to Weathers for turning a hymn into something that starts out sounding like Berlin School electronic music before melting into a heavenly refrain from an organ-like synth. I can picture these pieces perfectly in my head as the soundtrack to a Terence Malick film.

This is an imaginatively conceived project with many moments of beauty, and it comes highly recommended to all fans of electo-acoustic and ambient music. I imagine also that this will hold some special amount of interest for musicologists who check it out, though laypeople will no doubt also see what Andrew is aiming for. Here is the bandcamp page from my buddies at Lifelike Family, where you can buy either a download or a physical copy of the album.

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