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Ambient - Released June 1, 2018 | Numero Group

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Electro - Released October 2, 2015 | Numero Group

Express Rising's third full-length album transforms the project from a solo outfit of Chicago beat junkie Dante Carfagna into a trio including Kevin Blagg and William Suran. It also abandons the dusty hip-hop breakbeats and samples utilized in ER's two self-titled albums, opting for live instrumentation, including pedal steel guitar and banjo along with keyboards and primitive drum machines. Mood-wise, the album maintains the forlorn, downcast feeling of the first two albums, perfectly matching the blurry, snowy cover artwork. Impressively, the album's 12 moody instrumentals were improvised and recorded in a single take in a studio somewhere in rural Arkansas, revealing the trio to have spectacular chemistry. One could very easily mistake Fixed Rope for the work of a solo producer meticulously layering tracks and samples over the period of several months. The album perfectly evokes a feeling of spending a long, dreary winter stuck and snowbound in a Midwestern bunker far away from civilization or excitement. While that particular scenario doesn't sound enjoyable, the music most definitely is. One of the album's highlights, "Spirit Darts," demonstrates the trio's skill for combining disparate elements and blending them into a transportive, seamless whole, as it makes banjos and slide guitars sound cosmic and ethereal along with the track's ticking beat covered in cavernous, booming echo. The jawdropping (and brief) "Perishable Looks" meshes out-of-focus piano with gentle guitar flares, creating something otherworldly and softly devastating. "Long Distance Photo" injects a tiny sliver of sequenced synth melody, adding a bit of cinematic drama to the album's icy melancholia. "Fixed Rope" and "Aylmeri Bracelet" both elegantly incorporate distant-sounding strings, and several other tracks use folky acoustic guitars, as well as shoegaze-leaning electric ones. Like Shlohmo's 2015 album Dark Red, Fixed Rope finds a beatmaker successfully shifting from sample-based composition to live instrumentation while retaining the atmosphere that was expertly established on previous works, creating an immensely beautiful and uplifting work inspired by dark times. ~ Paul Simpson
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Electro - Released October 2, 2015 | Numero Group

Wrapped in a cover bearing a blurry photo of a nature scene and holding little information inside, Express Rising appeared out of the mist in 2003 as a limited run, self-titled album. The cloudy instrumental sounds turned out to be the long-toiled-over work of Chicago-based deep funk and soul DJ/compilation curator Dante Carfagna, pulled from years of four-track recordings and other piecemeal media. The (also self-titled) follow-up arrived in an equally vaporous manner ten years later, again with a washed-out photo and little else for listeners to go on besides the music. While the obscurity of the project is of almost Jandek-ian proportions, the 11 tracks of Carfagna's sophomore effort as Express Rising defy the vagueness of his aesthetic as they slowly burn through their beautifully watercolored phases. Clearly the end result of months or even years of home recording, the production sounds eroded more than arrived at, be it the muffled four-track cassette drum beat of "Left Right Behind" or the pristine synth pads of "Leland Sprinkle." One gets the sense that many long nights were spent in a bedroom studio refining, scrapping, and approaching songs afresh the next morning. Somewhere between Boards of Canada's dream-like pastoral electronica and the grubbiest four-tracked beat tape found on the street, Express Rising maintains a mystical dichotomy between controlled composition and absentminded stargazing. The soft melancholy of "Horse Opera" builds a buzzing din of electric piano and organ tones while a meandering guitar lead floats lazily on top. Ambling drums push the song along, gently, everything coming together to evoke the auburn glow of a summer night fading into morning. With the same sense of subtlety and depth as Eno's Before and After Science era, Carfagna manages to make every sound he employs take on his own unique voice. Thus the brittle banjo and looming hip-hop beats of "A Treasure Smile" don't clash with the almost Stars of the Lid-style ambience of "Winter the Heart." Though none of the sounds should make sense together, they all fit perfectly. Silently, almost invisibly, Carfagna has crafted another chapter of the insular masterpiece that is Express Rising. The album, though appearing to make every attempt at being ignored, is well worth seeking out. Spun on repeat, the sounds offer a unified voice so streamlined and crystalline they can't help but rise above their creator's self-imposed opacity. ~ Fred Thomas
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Electro - Released July 16, 2013 | Express Rising

Wrapped in a cover bearing a blurry photo of a nature scene and holding little information inside, Express Rising appeared out of the mist in 2003 as a limited run, self-titled album. The cloudy instrumental sounds turned out to be the long-toiled-over work of Chicago-based deep funk and soul DJ/compilation curator Dante Carfagna, pulled from years of four-track recordings and other piecemeal media. The (also self-titled) follow-up arrived in an equally vaporous manner ten years later, again with a washed-out photo and little else for listeners to go on besides the music. While the obscurity of the project is of almost Jandek-ian proportions, the 11 tracks of Carfagna's sophomore effort as Express Rising defy the vagueness of his aesthetic as they slowly burn through their beautifully watercolored phases. Clearly the end result of months or even years of home recording, the production sounds eroded more than arrived at, be it the muffled four-track cassette drum beat of "Left Right Behind" or the pristine synth pads of "Leland Sprinkle." One gets the sense that many long nights were spent in a bedroom studio refining, scrapping, and approaching songs afresh the next morning. Somewhere between Boards of Canada's dream-like pastoral electronica and the grubbiest four-tracked beat tape found on the street, Express Rising maintains a mystical dichotomy between controlled composition and absentminded stargazing. The soft melancholy of "Horse Opera" builds a buzzing din of electric piano and organ tones while a meandering guitar lead floats lazily on top. Ambling drums push the song along, gently, everything coming together to evoke the auburn glow of a summer night fading into morning. With the same sense of subtlety and depth as Eno's Before and After Science era, Carfagna manages to make every sound he employs take on his own unique voice. Thus the brittle banjo and looming hip-hop beats of "A Treasure Smile" don't clash with the almost Stars of the Lid-style ambience of "Winter the Heart." Though none of the sounds should make sense together, they all fit perfectly. Silently, almost invisibly, Carfagna has crafted another chapter of the insular masterpiece that is Express Rising. The album, though appearing to make every attempt at being ignored, is well worth seeking out. Spun on repeat, the sounds offer a unified voice so streamlined and crystalline they can't help but rise above their creator's self-imposed opacity. ~ Fred Thomas