May 28, 2010 in Features

The wide world of Blitzen Trapper

Mixing elements from the past five decades, Blitzen Trapper returns from world tour to brings its unique sounds to Knitting Factory
Isamu Jordan Correspondent
 
Courtesy of Todd Roeth photo

Blitzen Trapper plays its first show Wednesday since returning from its European tour. Courtesy of Todd Roeth
(Full-size photo)

If you go

Blitzen Trapper, with The Moondoggies

When: Wednesday, 8 p.m.

Where: Knitting Factory Concert House, 919 W. Sprague Ave.

Cost: $12/advance, $14/day of show, through TicketFly (877-435-9849, www.ticketfly.com)

Much of the album was birthed while the band was holed up in a Portland producer’s attic studio. But as the title suggests, Blitzen Trapper’s new “Destroyer of the Void” wasn’t written in a vacuum.

Like “Furr,” the band’s 2008 Sub-Pop debut, the follow-up (set for release June 8) breaks the lines bounding most things definable about Northwest indie-rock.

Nodding to “Abbey Road”-era Beatles, waving a Neil Young flag, infatuated with Queen from the first notes of the six-minute opening title track, Wilco-ish and Bob Dylan-esque, “Destroyer of the Void” reaches outside the musically marked territory of the region.

The songwriting, the production, the instrumentation, everything about Blitzen Trapper – including its sense of geography – has grown during the last two years of nonstop touring “Furr” across the states and overseas.

The band plays its first show since returning from tour in Europe, and the only Washington date on its summer North American tour, on Wednesday at the Knitting Factory.

“Destroyer of the Void,” Blitzen Trapper’s anticipated fifth album, has a timeless, non-contemporary feel as it threads together elements of 1960s folk, ‘70s country and Southern rock, and ‘80s prog-rock and pop ballads.

It’s the same vintage in recording quality captured by producer/engineer Mike Coykendall, who worked on the “Furr” tracks “Lady on the Water” and “Black River Killer.”

“Destroyer” isn’t a drastic departure from “Furr”; rather, it puts together similar aspects, only more stretched out, dissected and ultimately refined.

A dark blend of psychedelic country-folk and experimental rock permeates the record without overindulging the “art” in art-rock, nor denying Blitzen’s baroque-pop Portland-ness, thanks largely to chamber-rock string arrangements by fellow PDXers Peter Broderick (Horse Feathers, Norfolk and Western, Loch Lomond, Laura Gibson) and sister Heather Woods Broderick. There’s also a lot more piano.

The less accessible descents of the opening track are balanced with steadying moments of restraint, such as “The Man Who Would Speak True,” built of harmonica, voice and guitar, and “The Tree,” frontman Eric Earley’s duet with psych-folker Alela Diane, backed mainly by acoustic guitar and light percussion.

That kind of range enables Blitzen Trapper to play both Lollapalooza and the Newport Folk Festival, as it will in August.

Supporting Blitzen Trapper’s North American run is bluesy Seattle country folk-rock quartet Moondoggies, who recently released a new EP, “You’ll Find No Answers Here.”


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