Here’s something to celebrate: Momus doesn’t sing on Rusty Santos’s latest album, Eternity Spans. Rather, his guest appearance involves an almost sombre recitation over one of Santos’s instrumental abstractions, “The Comet.” While there’s no clear reason for Momus’s cameo, he adds some unlikely charm to the superior second half of Eternity Spans.
Santos initially came through as producer for The Animal Collective, and he shares that group’s unruly approach to song structure, moulding ungainly shapes around surprising melodic twists, and stretching jolting dynamics into raisons d’etre for entire songs. The closest reference point for both is early Mercury Rev, and on Eternity Spans Santos whips up Rev-esque tornados of guitar only to suddenly crash them into ambivalent ambience, as in the segue from “Everything OK” to “The Comet.”
For the first half of Eternity Spans, Santos comes on as the self-made madcap songwriter: sometimes he borders on uncontrollable, but more often, there is merely a hint of destabilization in his slightly knowing songs. They’re pleasant, with enough touches of the 1970s ‘weird singer/songwriter’ - Eno, Anthony Moore - to pull them through. As the record develops, Santos begins a process of unveiling, with gorgeous instrumental threnodies like “1929” and “Doesn’t Mean A Thing” nestling alongside the album’s title track, a refracting echo-maze for guitar, piano and Santos’s most affecting vocal performance. A full album of more elegiac songs like this would go down a treat, particularly when juxtaposed a la Another Green World with trinkets of ambient melody.
By Jon Dale