Stian Westerhus/Pale Horses – Maelstrom
Stian Westerhus was a new discovery for me in 2014. A master solo improviser, Westerhus exists on the fringe of music’s mainstream culture. Known for his solo live performances, and ambient landscapes driven by incredible guitar, effects and production chops, he’s done something different with this release.
With Maelstrom he created what you might call a post-rock record, but it’s more than that. Vocals, for one – he’s got an expressive and agile voice. Two, the emotional vocal delivery lends a weight and intimacy to these tunes. Ballads? Not in the conventional sense, as these compositions are more linear and tend to flow between origin and destination without repetition of verse and chorus, for example.
I really dig the application of his considerable talents to a more formal song structure. It makes for one of the most engaging and interesting records I’ve heard in years.