Blues Control, on their forth album, have upped sticks from the hipster colony of New York to 'get it together in the country' and given their retro leanings this should come as no surprise. The duo, Russ Waterhouse and Lea Cho, has decamped to Woodstock too, Woodstock Pennsylvania that is, to write and record Valley Tangents.
This new record deals in a laid back, dust covered amalgam of loungey jazz, psyche rock and the band's usual spartan blues. Valley Tangents augments fairly uncomplicated scratchy tape hiss and straight drum loops with crusty 8-bit synths and motorik rhythms courtesy of Tatsuya Nakatani on efforts such as Love's A Rondo and the archly titled Iron Pigs. Blues Control grasp for a pan-global sound but can, at times, sound like an under-coked prog band.
Whilst not being an ironic pastiche in anyway Valley Tangents is a mixed bag of cocktail bar sounds atop vintage psyche rock formations. At times, the record has a lack of feel, especially with the inclusion of parping electronics on Iron Pigs, refusing to commit. Fortunately, pulsing bass locks in with lo-fi drums on Opium Den/Fade to Blue which eventually finds its place sound-tracking the slow growth of a forest on some unmade nature documentary. On Walking Robin Blues Control employ distant echoey drums and wandering guitar building an illusion of Tortoise as jazz heads. Up to this point Valley Tangents is more of pleasing puff of warm air on an autumn day; far from a blast of thunder or sheets of driving rain.
By the final third of the record it can be hard to know who Blues Control really are given the act's propensity for change across releases and this group of songs' complicit elusiveness but on closing track Gypsum it finally clicks. From here you can revisit the record and see Blues Control poking and prodding their way through songs happy to add watercolours to gently shifting shapes as on the absorbing Open Air. One thing is true: Valley Tangents is not an immediate listen but not one to be disregarded out of hand either.