Boomkat Product Review:
Six years after the kaleidoscopic 'Unseen Forces', Ann Arbor-based trumpet player Justin Walter returns to Kranky with another faded suite of untethered, electrified ambience, adding wheezing pump organ sounds to the breathy haze of his signature EVI (Electronic Valve Instrument), a wind-controlled analog synth from the 1970s.
There's something quite magical about the animation Walter manages to tease from his instrumentation. He makes ostensibly electronic music, layering synth tones and drones into crystalline compositions, but the sound he manages to create, powered by the breathwork from his EVI, is unmistakably human. At its best, it's like Arve Henriksen if he was enraptured by kosmische music rather than Scandi jazz, and that should be enough to make you take at least a quick peek. 'Destroyer' was started in the summer of 2020, so its tone is more solemn than its predecessor; Walter still focuses his attention on the EVI, but draws out its most dramatic sonics, playing it expertly and fleshing out its fluctuating squeals with occasional percussive rattles and dusty drones from the recently restored organ.
Walter makes unashamedly enjoyable music that's as dramatic as Vangelis but stripped of the bombast. His vignettes are a vehicle for him to test the limitations of the EVI, and in his hands it's as expressive as a trumpet but as tonally rich as any hallowed analog mainstay. On 'Radio Contact' he uses the instrument to bend spiraling trills into cloudy vapors, letting the pump organ hum enthusiastically in the background. And on the title track, he plays gently over weightless keys creating a fanciful ambience that's far from background music. Nostalgic and cautiously serene, it's music that can lull you into a contemplative daydream - just the medicine for all that contemporary anxiety.