Published Oct 20, 2020On instrumentals, Adrianne Lenker of Big Thief works through a session of restorative musical therapy, enabling feelings of self-awareness and peace. Recorded as a companion piece to the more traditional songs while she isolated in a small cabin in the mountains at the start of the pandemic, Lenker sifts through a range of autumnal moods as she calmly makes her way on the acoustic guitar for two long, improvised wordless songs.
Throughout the record, Lenker's nimble fingers work their way up and down her fretboard, feeling out the auras and spaces around her at those exact moments. We hear her fingertips lightly brush against each individual string and the creaks of the guitar's wooden exterior brushing up against her body as Lenker shifts positions to express a slightly new angle of emotion. It's a rough, raw and deeply intimate glimpse inside Lenker's wildly creative mind, sprawling towards different directions, exploring the duality of love and loss that stems from a single seed of emotion. instrumentals' A-side, "music for indigo," is Lenker's heartbreaking journey through processing a recent breakup. There are repetitive harmonics, painfully heavy sighs, and bright, uplifting bouts of energy scattered throughout like freshly fallen pine needles.
Sometime during "music for indigo," Lenker exhales, "I'm starting over" and, just like the wind changing direction, her strumming tenderly moves into a soft wave of relief and tranquility before neatly folding into the second half of the album, aptly titled "mostly chimes." On instrumentals' B-side, Lenker's rangy guitar is accompanied by playful songbirds just outside her window before the aforementioned chimes makes its pacifying entry. Seemingly unaffected by this instrumental shift, the birds continue their distant chirps and twitters to the rhythm of their own daily lives of catching worms and mating rituals.
This part of the record is entirely devoted to coaxing the listener into a meditative trance with the calming sounds of ASMR-like rustling of leaves and unexplained soft-socked footsteps. On instrumentals, Lenker settles down from songs' busier thoughts, indulging in the stoicism within to achieve moments of serenity, if only briefly. Deep breaths, everyone. (4AD)