Spiral Wave Nomads is the newly formed duo of multi-instrumentalist Eric Hardiman (Rambutan, Century Plants, Burnt Hills) and drummer Michael Kiefer (More Klementines). As a new duo, their first record is surprisingly a fully formed excursion: an excellent balance of structure and improvisation, and a sound that never stands still, but also demonstrates consistency and focus from song to song. The final product is a complex, yet entirely enjoyable suite of enveloping psychedelia that engages without bludgeoning.
Twin Lakes/Feeding Tube
Being familiar with the wide array of Hardiman's other, more experimental projects, Spiral Wave Nomads is comparably more conventional, and overall more laid-back in sound, but by no means dull.The six songs are anything but stagnant, with all having a sense of improvisation pretty prominent throughout, but there is little in the way of unexpected outbursts or unconventional effects to be heard.Right from "Blue Dream" this is apparent in the multitracked guitar performance, with shimmering guitar chords paired with more distorted tones and Kiefer's shuffling rhythms.
The core of "Vanishing Edges" is similar, with the drums subtly punctuating the interwoven layers of distinct guitar tones that all go off in different directions, yet still sound unified together.There is an almost classic country like twang to "Floating on a Distant Haze" but with some vaguely Eastern tones there as well, the final product is entirely unique, with a loose improvised jam feeling throughout.The same can be said for the concluding "Patterns of Forgotten Flight", which features Hardiman again layering distinctly different, yet compatible melodies over Kiefer's spacious, subtle drumming.Even though it is just a duo, the sound is far richer and demonstrates just how well the two can essentially improvise with themselves.
The overall mood of the record may be consistent and at times conventional, but there is clearly room for some experimental flourishes to be heard as well.The fragmented rhythms of "Elysium" immediately set a different mood for the song, as does the heavier guitar treatments feature prominently throughout.It still has a jam vibe to it, but on the whole it is one that is looser and less conventional, dipping more into experimental improve territories.¬†The nearly 12 minute "Wabi Sabi" is another more unconventional work, with Hardiman adding some distinct sitar to the mix, contrasting his more traditional sounding guitar performance quite nicely.The rhythms come across as less structured and more free-form, with the whole performance sounding a bit more sprawling and less contained.
Spiral Wave Nomads may feature Eric Hardiman in a bit more of a conventional role than his work as Rambutan or the blown out jazz trio with Jeff Case and John Olson, but the work is no less innovative or distinct.He and Michael Kiefer have clearly outlined a specific sound for this record, and it is a great one.There are no harsh outbursts, face melting guitar leads, or drum solos, but instead it is a consistent, pleasant bit of psychedelic rock that manages to stay on the enjoyable side of jam band territory.