(8 out of 10)
As with Robert Gomez’s previous two records, there’s a deceptive sense of pastoral simplicity to Pine Sticks and Phosphorous. His hushed vocal demeanor, the gentle melodies and subdued instrumentation all lean toward a quiet sort of folksiness. Yet each of those elements are constructed of dense, polychromatic textures, and the orchestration and arrangement of these songs – though certainly unobtrusive – are far from incidental.
Amorphous blends of warm guitars, string sections and wind instruments are supported by whispery percussion. Occasionally punctuated by bits of brass, momentarily collapsing into dirgey dissonance or simply wafting off into the ether, these songs demand an attentive ear, but are equally inviting as moody set-pieces. With more than a dozen musicians on hand to assist in the playing of nearly twice as many instruments, Gomez has crafted eleven hopefully elegiac numbers that are thick with mellow melancholy. When Gomez combines that beautiful instrumentation with his penchant for impressionistic lyrics, he comes up with a sonic stew that’s simultaneously ethereal and gut-wrenchingly down-to-earth.
Standout Tracks: “Lock the Door,” “Hunting Song”