Pat Gubler — denizen of upstate New York, omni-instrumentalist and onetime member of Tower Recordings, an overlooked ’90s collective of acid-tinged folk-rockers — completely nails the intro to The Well of Memory, his second album as P.G. Six. An echo-y metallic harp leads into fistfuls of organ and a faint digital hum, demonstrating his penchant for lacing folk-oriented songs with noisy electronics. Residing within both the acoustic-based tradition and the modern free-folk renaissance that incorporates drones and psych experimentation, Gubler convinces us that, when fused properly, the two worlds are complementary.
Take the beautiful “Come In/The Winter It Is Past.” Initially evoking a sparse Sufjan Stevens with finger-bleeding banjo and haunted harmonizing from former Tower member Helen Rush (who also appears on “Crooked Way” and “Weeping Willow”), the song segues into a shimmering drone courtesy of a modified harmonica orchestra composed of audience participants and recorded live at New York’s Tonic in 2000. The latter half of that song, the revamped traditional “The Winter It Is Past,” bumps into this holy squeal, employing both acoustic and electric six-string and highlighting Gubler’s wistful and melancholy vocals.
That this jumble of songs and noise works is a testament to the attention paid to sequencing throughout the album. Its peaks are intimate but far-reaching: a late-night front-porch listen replete with wide-eyed staring toward the stratosphere, mind agog. While also engaging, the valleys are a tad spacey and might cause some listeners to lose their grasp.