RV Paintings
Samoa Highway
LP HMS 019

Hair Entertainment
January 2011

The genesis of RV Paintings comes out of the Humboldt region of Northern California, which is not surprising considering the overtly blissed-out and natural reverence of Samoa Highway. At first this album might come across as some typical "artist-infusing-experimental-elements-such-as-field-recordings" release, but the variance between the five tracks of the album, which only lasts a mere 33 minutes, has enough thought and content to last for five hours. The emphasis here is not purely musical, but more so environmental and understandably so, given that RV Paintings is the side-project of Brian Pyle of Starving Weirdos. At least thematically, an alternative Wagnerian time-scale would be appropriate for this album judging from its trajectory: the first, and longest, track "Millions" regularly samples airplane takeoffs and quick, sprite-like explosions, which contrasts highly to its return-to-innocence closing track "As Far As We Could See." The track titles say it all - from the claustrophobic masses of modernity ("Millions") we undergo a reversal of time until nature reveals its own infinity ("As Far As We Could See"). But really, Samoa Highway begins with the atmospheric equivalent of what might be the melancholic scenery outside of a second-world metropolis' airport, or Newark NJ, and fluctuates between anxiety or tranquility as the album goes forward, yet perceptibly backwards. There is no over-precedence of musical elements on any of the five tracks since each piece is kept to its constitutive basics - "From Manila to Forever" and "As Far As We Could See" glisten with rawer notes and tones, while "Mirrors" is unsettlingly lost in its loops of high pitches and grating timbres. The feeling of reaching the final track really feels as though you've discovered the gold under the Rhine being hinted at throughout the course of the album. It's Humboldt's best conception of a Götterdämmerung if it ever had one. - Darius Sabbaghzadeh