Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Listen/Watch: Waterstrider - "Calliope"

photo by Cara Robbins
If there was any hint that Oakland world pop quintet Waterstrider were not playing around, it's now. After years of playing it slow and steady in terms of their recorded output, they're finally rushing full speed ahead with their debut full length record Nowhere Now. With the exception of the Little Dragon cover they put out last year and the odd single or two, its the band's first major release since 2012's 3 song suppressed-but-not-forgotten Wind-Fed Fire EP and we're already, surprisingly, three singles in.

"Calliope", named for the muse of epic poetry, builds quite naturally from the nature of celebrity addressed in its double A side companion "White Light". In a similar vein as "White Light", "Calliope" embraces the darker aspects of its source on inspiration - in this case inspiration itself. As "Calliope" addresses the hard won battle of stirring up inspiration and following it through to its artistically satisfying conclusion. While making full use of the whole band there's no denying "Calliope" functions as an impressive showcase for Nate Salman. From the androgynously silvery falsetto at the song's introduction, its sumptuous craning choruses, and his ferocious wail at its climax; "Calliope" demonstrates in full force the sheer strength of Salman's vocal performance. It's not a one man show of course - the foundation for those stratospheric leaps being laid by a band with five years of familiar comfort under its belt but its a notable turn - the rare instance where Salman rushes forth with an unbridled sense of purpose.

In the dizzying time-skipping narrative of director Joe Nankin, the muse is once again granted a physical form as the video's protagonist (played by Paul Collins) finds himself thrown to and fro through time; from the Crusades to modern day California while looking for her. The question becomes not whether or not she'll continue to elude him but if he wants to keep pursuing her as each time he closes in on her, he's shaken vigorous off of her trail. It's a centuries-spanning game of cat and mouse where the mouse is both the captivating seductress and wily fugitive.

Waterstrider's debut full length album Nowhere Now is out April 6th. You can pre-order it now as well as listen to the previously released singles "Redwood" and "White Light" via Bandcamp.

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