ORDER LP ($18), CD ($13), or both ($25):
Today, just in time for the first stirrings of autumn, Nathan Bowles‘ radiant new album is finally among us, in stores, on turntables, in the humid air.
On Whole & Cloven, Nathan again augments his mesmeric clawhammer banjo pieces with piano, percussion, and vocals. Instead of the programmatic place-based narratives of its predecessor Nansemond (PoB-16), Whole & Cloven offers a stoic meditation on absence, loss, and fragmentation, populating those experiential gaps—the weighty interstices and places in-between—with stillness and wonder. Straddling Appalachian string band music and avant-garde composition but beholden to neither idiom, Nathan proves himself heir to deconstructivist tradition-bearers like Henry Flynt and Jack Rose. (But don’t take out word for it; check out the growing chorus of acclaim below.)
The LP, pressed on 140g virgin vinyl, features a heavy-duty 24pt reverse board matte jacket (with stunning artwork by John Henry Toney), printed inner sleeve, and download code. The CD edition is housed in a heavy-duty gatefold jacket. All orders from our online store include an immediate 320k MP3 download of the entire album (visit our Bandcamp page if you prefer high-res files.)
Grip the record above, stream it below, or take a walk to your nearest record shop.
UPCOMING EVENTS OF NOTE
North Carolinian friends, mark your calendars: our friends at the Center for the Study of the American South at UNC–Chapel Hill are hosting a free record release party for Nathan Bowles’ Whole & Cloven on Sept. 8, as part of their eminently mellow Music on the Porch series. There will be refreshments; there will be records for sale; there will be a performance on the lovely porch of the Love House. Details here. Other Bowles tour dates, with Steve Gunn and solo, here.
The weekend of the Hopscotch Music Festival in nearby Raleigh, NC is going to be a busy one, with Promised Land Sound and Gun Outfit playing Sept. 9 and Lavender Country (backed by members of Promised Land Sound and Gun Outfit) playing Sept. 10.
Also on Sept. 8, the Nasher Museum of Art will also host Lavender Country for a screening of the award-winning short documentary These C*cksucking Tears, followed by a special storytelling performance (also featuring members of Promised Land Sound and Gun Outfit.) It’s all part of the programming for the Southern Accent exhibition, for which Brendan Greaves of PoB also wrote a catalog essay and co-curated the Southern music listening library. Details here.
You can peruse all PoB-related tour dates here.
ACCLAIM FOR WHOLE & CLOVEN
“Bowles has the power to transform the sound of a banjo—and traditional folk music—into something transcendental, often bringing the spirit of Americana to new heights. Nansemond positioned Bowles as a crucial force in folk music, showcasing his ability to interweave the genre’s communal spirit with chilling moments of ambient introspection. Whole & Cloven, Bowles’ colorful, uplifting follow-up … is an album that reshapes folk music into something boundless and new.” – Pitchfork“Nathan Bowles spends his third solo album, Whole & Cloven, splitting the difference between Jack Rose-ian acoustic romps and Henry Flynt-y drone jigs. Bowles’ “Gadarene Fugue” isn’t actually a fugue, but it does whip a meditative clawhammer banjo melody into a fury. With light percussion that clacks and shuffles in the background, a Gnawan-influenced bass line jolts the tune forward like swine compelled to run and drown in the river.” – NPR Music
“Nathan’s music is marked by both his deep study of vernacular American forms and his years-long dedication to the development of his own voice. He is a musician who respects tradition as he values experimentation, an artist whose work commands careful listening. This balance is what makes Nathan’s voice singular: as a player, he is fearless, challenging. And as a listener, I am grateful and inspired.” – Steve Gunn
“He belongs to a school of contemporary musicians—guitar players such as William Tyler and Steve Gunn—who are rethinking folk music as an avant-garde form. On his third solo album, his style is scraggly yet sophisticated, ranging boldly from country drones to rambunctious rural ragas… Sounds like Philip Glass playing to barnyard animals.” – Uncut
“Banjo picker for Steve Gunn et al., alone Bowles applies his clawhammer style to reverberating experiments, ragas, and an 11-minute meditation on loss. Lovely.” – MOJO
“Fluidly melodic digressions and pungent dissonances generate a forward momentum and haunted atmosphere. Emotionally compelling statements.” – The Wire
“Bowles pushes in a new direction, setting out not to make a cohesive album so much as to seek out new ways to tie an album together, to figure out whether or not the broken can still seem complete. With Bowles’ new record, to paraphrase Leonard Cohen, it’s the cracks that let all the best, most revealing light through.” – Popmatters
“I have huge respect for Nathan as a musician on so many levels.” – Michael Chapman