Ryley Walker – “Opposite Middle”

At the end of February, Ryley Walker announced his latest album Deafman Glance. Over the years, we’ve heard Walker take his virtuosic guitar skills to pretty disparate places — lush, psychedelic jazz-folk on 2015’s Primrose Green gave way to a more haggard and nocturnal sound on 2016’s Golden Sings That Have Been Sung. And Deafman Glance might just be the greatest leap he’s taken yet.

When Walker first discussed the LP, he said he had tried to get away from jams and improvisation in favor of more controlled arrangements that nodded to the deep history of post-rock in his native Chicago. We previously heard “Telluride Speed,” which aside from making impressively convincing use of rock flute, also seemed to represent Walker’s goal: Built on languid, dreamy passages but periodically ruptured by burnt jazz-rock guitar flareups, “Telluride Speed” showed Walker bringing a distinct level of care and attention to how he was crafting the bleary new music from Deafman Glance.

Today, he’s back with another one called “Opposite Middle.” The song sits alongside “Telluride Speed,” together forming the centerpiece of Deafman Glance. Compared to “Telluride Speed,” “Opposite Middle” might seem a more logical outgrowth of Walker’s past work. Moving at a gentle rush, it’s the more brisk of the two, propelled by liquid jazz lines and embellished with occasional synth flourishes. But it has the same dusky, strung-out aesthetic of “Telluride Speed,” with Walker’s new vocal approach settling into a mumbly, worn speak-sing. But here’s what’s most important: This is another excellent song from Walker that suggests Deafman Glance is an album to get excited about. Check out the track below.

Deafman Glance is out 5/18 on Dead Oceans. Pre-order it here.

Tags: Ryley Walker