I really was not sure what to expect when I sat down to play this one. Bill Crandall was the original guitarist in Dot Dash, as well as a member of seminal D.C. area mod band, Modest Proposal (along with WTOP's Neal Augenstein, in case you didn't know that). And while I was pretty sure that his new album, New World Voyage, wasn't going to sound like either of those acts, I was also unsure what exactly it would sound like.
Billed to Mistochord, the album very clearly shows how much can be done with a minimal style without making a new age album. So don't let the cover fool ya, you know? While Crandall uses trappings of what can only be called space rock on the gentle-yet-expansive title cut, he also makes sure that this sort of thing remains focused and not too wispy on the majority of cuts on this release. The tracks here on New World Voyage are uniformly well-thought out and expertly played even if the style is decidedly more minimal than the tunes on other projects Bill's played on previously. The haunting "Echoes" reminded me -- oddly -- of a Foo Fighters ballad stripped down to its basic elements. "Love Again" recalls the best solo Jason Falkner cuts, and even Air or Grandaddy.
Elsewhere, on the subtly surging "Feel", Crandall employs a near-blues hook in the service of a strong melody. Fans of Eric Matthews, Richard Davies, and Cardinal will love this. This is U.S. chamber pop of the very best sort, more trippy than ornate though. Crandall has absorbed a few lessons from the Eno solo output, both the vocal and instrumental albums, as he seems to be making what owes a debt to those records, as well as more modern stuff like Iron and Wine or Elliott Smith. "Old Time" unfurls with a hook that wouldn't necessarily have been out of place on Led Zeppelin III as the tune here spirals out and into space and away from the blues tradition. Crandall allows these songs plenty of room to expand in a listener's mind and the overall effect is haunting. On "Old Time Redux (Arrival)" he and collaborator Sean Winters indulge a bit in what can best be described as the sort of thing that populated side 2 of Low but, wisely, Crandall and Winters don't overdo it, choosing instead to take inspiration from that Bowie classic rather than attempt to replicate it. The electronic effects here are understated for the most part and perhaps credit for that should also go to producer Mike Fanuele who brings what he learned working with Thievery Corporation to this project.
New World Voyage by Mistochord is highly recommended for fans of the previously mentioned Cardinal, as well as those of you who liked and remembered that Logan's Sanctuary project that Jason Falkner worked on. Fans of Crandall's work in Dot Dash and Modest Proposal are going to be surprised in a good way at the understated depth here. If he's not working in the realm of power pop now, at least he's still making affecting music.
You can buy the album via the Bandcamp link. Further details on New World Voyage are found in the press release, here, and details on Bill Crandall's photography and other projects via his website: https://bill-crandall.squarespace.com/.
Additionally, check out some sample pics from the New World Voyage release here.