Above: Hartle Road, always caroming out of focus.
The Hartle Road vein of artacious musik is not your grandfather's prog rock. Nor does it share a forehead-to-the-pavement charm with the Brutalist, reinforced concrete school. What we have is a humanist approach to the margins. There is an undeniable quality to the sounds emanating from Hartle Road. The music is challenging, but ultimately it is pop music inducing a not unpleasant nod/head tap/toe response.
The origins of Hartle Road as a friends & family unit from the small city of Columbus, Mississippi (two brothers, a cousin and a childhood pal) partially explain the tension of trust they radiate. One feels this music is availing the moment, our moment, where we are now and where we want to be.
The new Hartle Road album Maxx II [PRNL049/KLP288] is a perfect example of their no-looking-back approach to futuristic music-making. The album flows gracefully through thick and thin layers of abrasion while pulsating non-stop. "Poetry in commotion" is a phrase that keeps surfacing as song after song burrow through the psyche. Dance, one must. Other involuntary reactions: hum, snap, shout.
Our most privileged compatriots have had access to the assorted basement and cafe performances of Hartle Road, and report the effect is pleasing, inspiring, sometimes overwhelming. If you have a chance to witness the Hartle Road live scene, go. they will scatter themselves across the Midwest and Southeast this autumn. East and West Coast, later on.