Exposé Online banner

Larkin Grimm — Chasing an Illusion
(Northern Spy NS 088, 2017, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2017-07-11

Chasing an Illusion Cover art

Question of the day: What would happen if an American folk singer became obsessed with Alice Coltrane’s cosmic jazz? Larkin Grimm’s Chasing an Illusion is one credible answer to the question, combining banjo, fiddle, slide guitar, saxophones, harp, bass, and drums with Grimm’s voice on a set of tunes dripping with quiet energy, spirituality, and invention. The seed of the album was planted when Grimm attended Ornette Coleman’s funeral, where Ravi Coltrane performed, and appeared as a resolve to record songs featuring the harp in tribute to a woman whose music had comforted her in difficult times. These eight tracks have a very natural, loose feel, having been recorded live in the studio by a dozen or so musicians and presented “letting the out of tune and out of time parts celebrate our humanity and imperfection,” as Grimm says in the promo sheet. The music is full of surprises and unexpected juxtapositions, with the overdriven bass in “Keeping You Alive” being one of my favorites. The drums keep a slow groove, a harp outlines the chords, the voices intertwine lines with intimate, breathy tones, a flute twitters commentary joined by someone whistling, all with fuzzy throbbing from the bass. The most obvious Alice Coltrane reference comes with “Fear Transforms into Love (Journey in Turiyasangitananda)” with its droning strings, trancelike drums, and flights of fancy from the harp. At other times, banjo functions almost like a sitar, providing twanging metallic lines. “On the Floor” is backed with distorted chords that sound like an electric piano through a fuzz pedal, though there’s none listed in the credits — in any case, it’s a interesting sound, and a bold choice in the arrangement. Chasing an Illusion is full of such bold choices, and presents a unique take on the singer-songwriter genre which succeeds at every level. Highly recommended.


Filed under: New releases, 2017 releases

Related artist(s): Larkin Grimm

Latest news

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more

2018-11-02
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more

2018-10-17
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more

2018-09-29
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more

2018-09-25
Help the Psychic Equalizer Avoid Extinction – Last year we reviewed the debut album by Psychic Equalizer, a musical project of Hugo Selles. He's now working on the ambitious follow-up to that release, and is seeking funding from listeners around the world. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Pink Floyd - The Division Bell – Eight years since their last studio release, Floyd have come forward with another fine collection of songs, with no real surprises — their timeless style intact — this could just as easily...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues