A. P. Swearengin – With/Without
Orchid Collective 2009
Listen while reading:
Ghostly Night; This House (from With/Without)
Where A Comfort Stays (from With/Without)
Everybody is talking about Orchid Collective at the moment because they got really great folk and slowcore (or slow alternative as I prefer to say) artists there. One of the guys I’m talking about is A. P. Swearengin. Together with Doby Watson (also on Orchid Collective) he recorded Guitar Duets (read about it on slowcoustic.com) and has also finished his first solo album called With/Without.
With/Without is a concept album dealing with what is called home and therefore A. P. Swearengin’s songs are mostly about nostalgia and memories. Overall the record is very slow and carries a sad and downcast tenor. You really feel forlorn while listening to it over headphones with the lights out. Beyond the haunting quality of his voice, it is the sparing use he makes of it that causes it to emerge from the background even more clearly.
I would say that With/Without is a mixture of folk and slow alternative maybe a bit similar to Red House Painters masterpiece Down Colorful Hill but more folky and without percussions. What’s different to Kozelek’s recording is that A. P. Swearengin also includes instrumentals to create passages of pure emotions and feelings (side note: these passages remind me of Doby Watson’s Nine Songs (again on Orchid Collective)).
Now that I’ve mentioned Doby Watson and Red House Painters I think I should add another artist to that list. If you listen to the track Where A Comfort Stays you can clearly hear some Savoy Grand in it. Those three bands can give you a good picture of the whole album – but don’t be afraid that it is a rip-off, it really sounds independent. With/Without will certainly get a high ranking in my Top 10 this year.
If you want to pick up a physical copy of the album you better be quick because it’s limited to 50 pieces. You can order or download it here. Be sure to check out A. P. Swearengin’s MySpace site and the other artists at Orchid Collective.