Thursday, August 18, 2022

Max Gowan and the alt rock, avant pop dreaminess of "Ornamental"


"I called your bluff..."

Be forewarned before pushing play on Max Gowan's "Ornamental". He dives in right away and the sounds, like a multi-barbed flirtation, is hard to resist. To say you will find yourself falling into the song is not an exaggeration. Let anyone in the room know you will be mesmerized for nearly 8 minutes (you will listen twice) and will likely ignore them. There is a wonderful sort of jazz pop waltz feeling within the indie rock intricacies (the guitar work is stunning) that pushes 70's broad pop / rock cues. As I listened with my eyes closed and I thought of artists like Todd Rundgren, Steely Dan and jazz dipped 80's icon Joe Jackson and, AND dare I say, a late 60's Burt Bacharach.  

Love this. "Ornamental" is the first listen of his upcoming full length "Glossolalia" dropping September 2, 2022 via cassette, vinyl and digitally. 

Based on this beautiful artfully heady track, I look forward to checking it out. 

-Robb Donker Curtius

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Max Gowan has found himself as a centrifugal figure in the burgeoning music scene of central North Carolina. Through his behind-the-scenes work as an audio engineer, recording, mixing, and mastering both for local musicians and musicians around the country, he is a key force of all the invisible parts that go into music production. But with his sixth full length album Glossolalia, Max Gowan is taking a step out from the background, delving into personal and intimate themes for his new full length album. He indicates that this is a noticeable shift thematically – an intentional movement away from the muted or covert storytelling, and a direct effort to be more visible and transparent, even biographical, in his songwriting. The 25-year-old native of Raleigh, North Carolina has a long list to show for his music production accomplishments, and now his attention to detail and audio craftsmanship shines through on an album with production credits all his own. Gowan's richness in texture and soundscapes will often crown him as your favorite musician's favorite musician – the talent and dexterity instrumentality and the obvious knowledge of production uplift this project.

Despite the titular implication of Glossolalia, the album's lyrics are ironically direct and often vulnerably so. The rhyming couplets, especially regarding sinister themes, pair with Gowan's smooth voice to make these statements: "All they're going to do/ Is make a jackal out of you", he sings on the album's opening track. And this dissonance between the sweetness of the vocals and the lyrical content is one of the album's many consistent features. Recruiting local friends and musicians to help, the LP balances strings, horns, synths, and guitar gracefully, using texture to give dynamics and sturdiness to the songs. If there is a special talent in not being overstated about your talent, Max Gowan has it. It's there, under the surface – the pop sensibilities and thoughtfully, intricately-woven instrumentality. The reason that at his shows, the crowds know the words. All of the small parts of Glossolalia make it lush and wide open, a huge sound coming from a small city.

- Bio by Caroline White

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 Max Gowan, indie rock, alt rock, avant pop, jazz dips, jazz fused, blended rock, singer songwriter, North Carolina, "Ornamental", Upcoming album, "Glossolalia",

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