Cass McCombs: Tip Of The Sphere review – Cali-folk -absurdist captivates again

Thu, Feb 7, 2019, 22:00


Tip of the Sphere

Cass McCombs



In Cass McCombs’ canon, there are few certainties. Over a career spanning two decades, the Californian folk-absurdist can be counted on to deliver new material every two years. What overall tone will pervade, however, cannot be predicted.

On his ninth record, Tip Of The Sphere, McCombs yields a plethora of textures steered by his electric guitar while conjuring moods prompted by a range of vocal exertions. Sometimes he croons, elsewhere he snarls, shifting between sentimental and sordid lyrics.

McCombs eschews uniformity for a varied sonic palette, and the breadth covered in these 11 songs contribute to an exceptionally fulfilling body of work. He incorporates classical Indian instrumentation on Real Life – a soothing melody enhanced by a pulsating tabla drum – and injects vitality to the subdued collection of alt-country compositions.

Another startling moment is American Canyon Sutra. Stream-of-consciousness mumbles layered atop a trip-hop looped beat punctuated by harrowing minor chords plucked on his guitar darken the light which shines, throughout. It’s menacing and marvellous, all at once.

Tip Of The Sphere’s captivating spontaneity is enough to keep fans content for the next two years until McCombs re-emerges from the studio.