Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Thomas Comerford of Kaspar Hauser gets mellow

Posted By on 11.02.11 at 02:30 PM

Thomas Comerford
  • Thomas Comerford
Chicago filmmaker Thomas Comerford, who's also the man behind the rock band Kaspar Hauser, began working on the relatively quiet songs on his new record, Archive + Spiral (Spacesuit), as a kind of a lark. He had some tunes that felt too mellow for Kaspar Hauser, so he gathered some musician friends who seemed well-suited to them. But then, as he told Reader contributor Jessica Hopper in a Tribune story last month, "this thing happened while we were playing those songs—both the way I set up the process and the rapport we developed in the arranging and playing of the tunes just seemed to ask for more material, so I began to write new material to play with the solo band to keep things going."

The new recording proves his instincts were right on. You can hear traces of the classic-rock icons who have long inspired Comerford, like Neil Young and the Velvet Underground—the new record includes a cover of "Sunday Morning"—but his attractively nasal voice survives the transplant into gentler surroundings. It's a decidedly modest collection but full of well-chosen flourishes, from the nicely off-center hand claps that syncopate "Dear Stephen Hauser" to the liquid Gregg Ostrom guitar solo that skitters like a stone across water in "Joseph Cornell." As with Comerford's music in Kaspar Hauser, there's no flash, no trendiness, no genre hopping—just songs that convince you of rock's enduring power and elegance. The exquisite patience in Comerford's music seems to extend to his outlook as a musician; he's well grounded, expending his energy on craft and trusting in the results rather than sweating how to market his work.

Comerford and the band from the record—Ostrom, keyboardist-guitarist Edward Crouse, bassist Justin Petertil, and drummer Seth Vanek—perform Thursday night at the Hideout to celebrate the release of the album. Below you can listen to its eloquent opener, "Robert Bresson"—named for the famous French filmmaker (the title of his classic A Man Escaped is incorporated into the lyrics). You can also watch the video for "Dear Stephen Hauser."

Thomas Comerford, "Robert Bresson":

Today's playlist:

Led Bib, Bring Your Own (Cuneiform)
Ricardo Gallo's Tierra de Nadie, The Great Fine Line (Clean Feed)
Karl Berger, Strangely Familiar (Tzadik)
Hafiz Kemal Bey, Vasfini Bu Resme Tertip Ettiler… (Kalan)
Helen Bledsoe, Alexey Lapin, Melvyn Poore, Matthias Schubert, and Roger Turner, Seek it Not With Your Eyes (Red Toucan)

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