Casual Strangers Trip Rhapsodic

Cosmic rock locals premiere “Holocene Dream”

“We gave ourselves space,” proclaims Paul Waclawsky, tracing Casual Strangers’ palpable evolution from experimental rockers to ambient instrumentalists. “Space from each other, from a recording studio, from the instruments we normally play in our live show.”

Katey Gunn, Paul Waclawsky, Jaylinn Davidson, and Jake Mitchell (Photo by Todd V. Wolfson)

The Strangers’ second movement, a rose-colored cassette called Pink Panther, forgoes the skin-melting psychedelia and cheeky art-rock lyrics of the quartet’s eponymous 2014 debut in favor of meandering synth compositions and uncharted atmospheric jams. Credit the methodology: The bulk of the album resulted from analog home recording experiments in which tracks were constructed via round-robin improvisation on unusual instruments like a Farfisa synthesizer and 12-string guitar.

“It was like a game of telephone,” offers Waclawsky of Pink Panther’s minimalist rhapsodies. “This is what I hear, and this is what I put on the track.”

Another thread on the album draws from live sessions in which the entire band – Boxing Lesson alumni Waclawsky (guitars), Jaylinn Davidson (synths), and Jake Mitchell (percussion), plus ringer Katey Gunn (lap steel, synths) – embarks in off-the-cuff musical voyages in their loud, live band setup. Lead single “Holocene Dream,” the soundtrack to this oceanic color-trip video, draws from those recordings. Pink Panther, named after a potent formula of LSD, takes an instrumental spirit quest, and like all trips, the feeling lingers and informs everything thereafter.

“Perhaps this has been a detour so extreme it’s become a new direction,” allows Gunn. “We hope to incorporate this relaxed sound into our future projects.”

Pink Panther drops February 26 on Split Pursuit Records.

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Casual Strangers, Boxing Lesson, Paul Waclawsky, Jaylinn Davidson, Jake Mitchell, Katey Gunn, Pink Panther, Split Pursuit Records

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