William Tyler (of Silver Jews, Lambchop)

William Tyler (of Silver Jews, Lambchop)

Nashville guitarist William Tyler is well known in musician's circles. At home he's called "Willy T," and he's made a name for himself in the indie rock and folk worlds collaborating with everyone from the Silver Jews and Lambchop to Simone White and Bonnie Prince Billy. His own solo debut, Behold the Spirit, on New York's wondrous Tompkins Square imprint, is aptly titled. It is indeed a mysterious amalgam of acoustic guitar styles that reveals the influence of Anglo players such as Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Davey Graham, and even Jimmy Page. That said, one can also hear the fingerstyle picking of Mississippi John Hurt and Jorma Kaukonen in Tyler's approach to the guitar. But, recording in the 21st century, he is also no purist, and in this regard has much more in common with someone like his peer James Blackshaw, as a composer and a player. While the acoustic guitar is the predominant instrument on this beguiling set of nine originals, subtle shades of electronics, brass, violin, percussion, pedal steel, and piano also appear. The album opens with the mysterious "Terrace of the Leper King," where a pronounced but slightly reverbed acoustic guitar playing a droning dirge is augmented by traces of a barely audible conversation, a ghostly trace of brass, and the incidentals of Page's trademarked DADGAG tuning. Clocking in at eight-and-a-half minutes, the piece is its own journey that ends far from where it began. "Oahspe" begins with ambient noise in empty space before Tyler begins with a deliberate slow strum, opening a melody that at once suggests memory, dreamy reverie, and the intimacy of a mirror. His fingers pull at the middle and high strings even as his chords create a frame; that is, before he rips the seam and flurries of notes enter the fray, though their urgency is tempered by warmth in his use of reverb. "The Cult of the Peacock Angel," with its employment of pedal steel, violin, and multi-tracked acoustic guitars, begins in one time and space and poetically cracks, opening another more provocatively impure one; controlled feedback and dissonance become part and parcel of a harmonic construction that never surrenders its sense of order but delightfully struggles with it nonetheless. Behold the Spirit is an otherworldly recording. Certainly it is rooted in folk music, but it cannot be contained by it. It enters the culture from so many directions -- both inside and outside the usual dialogues -- it is by its nature something quite other, that is at once strange and almost unspeakably beautiful.

The Inclined Plane

The Inclined Plane continues to believe that the age-old diet of vacuum tubes and mondegreens is the secret to writing classic psych pop. The reclusive band's lo-fi carousel of catchy hooks and melodic fun is a dizzy joyride spinning on the circle of fifths. From noisy '60s psychedelia and harmony-rich folk to kraut drones and detuned '90s guitar jangles, a carefully selected assortment of spices finds its way into The Inclined Plane's mash.

The early years found them home recording and self-released three EPs — "Gestalt Pump" (2006), "The Bit Intuit" (2007) and "Nonpareils" (2007) — each in limited runs in handmade packaging (featuring the artwork of John Tieman) on their own Popular Wallpaper Recordings label. In 2009 came the proper full-length, "I Am Pants," which found them expanding their songwriting palette and distilling their unique brand of ambitious home recording into ten golden, mixtape-ready pop singles. The band then recorded the "Paw Meds/Mary, All the Time" 7-inch single. A February Records/Popular Wallpaper Recordings co-release, the hand-numbered, limited-run of 200 (1-100 on transparent orange, 101-200 on black) contained two more brand new reverb-soaked nuggets.

Enter the second full-length - The Backwards Frontier - an ambitious collection of eleven new home-recorded gems that found the sonic blow-out punks wafting up a robust blend of AM Gold powerpop and 90's slack. Wonderful melodies are in abundance, while subtle notes of kiwi and kraut embellish its heady, harmonic bouquet.

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William Tyler (of Silver Jews, Lambchop) with The Inclined Plane

Wednesday, October 23 · 9:00 PM at BAR