Many artists who attempt to wander through the deeper waters of dreamy pop and rock rhythms find themselves lost in a swirling miasma of Cocteau Twins-esque jangle or Beach House-like density. They often fail to properly understand the underlying melodic principles and produce something that sounds fine but lacks any real emotional weight. Chattanooga musician Josiah Parks doesn’t have that problem—he taps into those ethereal pop-rock instincts to discover the heart and emotion buried within these sounds.
Without using any words he manages to reveal a concise rhythmic intensity that’s often missing from instrumental music. He doesn’t wander off course or meander through unrelated musical tangents; he sees these ephemeral movements as a way for him to connect with his audience without affectation or distance. Guitars still shimmer in the distance and synths shake from one end of a song to the other, but he never loses that forward momentum, that purpose and inexplicable determination that manifests itself in every chord and wavering tone.
On his new record, “Light Chasers,” Parks compiles 11 instrumental tracks of hazy indie pop impressions and memories. We’re given no lyrics to tie everything together, but we really don’t need them. Each song acts as a microcosm of sound and experience; within each one, there is ample room for him to unfurl his eclectic perspective and welcome us into this ambient dreamland of colliding influences and inspirations. He doesn’t stick to any one genre, opting instead to traverse a much broader musical territory.
From brassy riffs to subtle electronic flourishes and wobbly pop melodies, he reaches out into an array of aesthetics, bringing them all together under the roof of “Light Chasers.” The songs can feel brittle and beautiful but also large and magnificent, a testament to his way with wordless arrangements. Worlds unto themselves, each track goes through a process of expanding and contracting as they settle into their specific orbits. And we’re carried along in that musical trajectory, unsure of where we’ll end up and loving every minute.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.