S. Carey’s Range of Light, the first full length follow up to 2010’s All We Grow, is the clearest distillation of the Bon Iver drummer’s musical ideas yet.
The improved production leads to pristine tones and allows the subtlety of Carey’s compositions breathe easily without strain or exaggeration. There are plenty of production tricks present, but Carey keeps warmth and intimacy in his music through natural percussion and his own voice.
Range of Light draws from classical, folk and jazz music to build soundscapes that prime the imagination. Carey’s music is like a more percussive version of Eluvium. The underlying beat is stronger, but longer tones that form the melodies and supporting line are just as gorgeous.
While Carey sings on every track, he lets the instruments do most of the speaking for him. This is music made for the sake of being beautiful. With enough digging, a deeper meaning could be cobbled together, but Range of Light doesn’t require it.
Appreciating its beauty is enough to enjoy Range of Light. The dramatic build at the end of “Crown the Pines” doesn’t need anything more to be satisfying. The loping “Alpenglow” provides the most direction with lyrics about a relationship, but even without them the music feels romantic.
Range of Light is S. Carey stepping out of the bedroom — and Justin Vernon’s shadow — and into his own spotlight. This is not the sound of a side project, but of a talented composer hitting his stride.
S. Carey will play Kings Barcade April 12 with White Hinterland and Loamlands. Tickets are $10 in advance.