Art of Flying: I’m Already Crying (ThroatCulture)

Recorded at the Barn Recorder, Questa, NM; Studio (C), Taos, NM; Gizmo, Taos, NM; & the Chrysalis Alternative School, Taos, NM; by David Costanza & Max Moulton. Mixed by David Costanza & Max Moulton at Studio (C) Taos, NM. Produced by Art of Flying.

Mastered by Max Moulton at GIZMO, Taos, NM.

4.5 out of 5: TOP ALBUM: No More Division

David Costanza and Anne Speroni, together with a revolving cast of musicians under the banner Art Of Flying, deal in oppositions: pop/folk + experimentation, archaic and entirely of the moment. Art Of Flying doesn’t bother labeling themselves, getting down to the business of writing songs, leaving the naming to the journalistic punters, which keeps them below the musical radar. As the era of genre-identification surpasses its zenith, the time is rife for a new appreciation of Art Of Flying, which the excellent Italian music magazine called “the best-kept secret in American music of the new century.”

Their album I’m Already Crying fluctuates between song-based pop psychedelia, which brings to mind Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, in all its Wind In The Willows-swept pastoral oddity, and atmospheric interludes, utterly gorgeous moments of sparkling guitars and piano minimalism. The mixture prevents the record from being too one-note, preventing the psychedelia from becoming cloying and saccharine but the “songs” make I’m Already Crying tangible, relatable and memorable.

I’m Already Crying bears the tag “home recording;” don’t let this mislead you! If I had a studio like this in my home, I would leave less often than I already do. The album was recorded in Art Of Flying’s The Barn Recorder in Questa, NM, where they were formerly based. The album was recorded onto 2″ tape (which is really thick and detailed, in case you didn’t know), and mixed through a classic analog pre-amps and a mixing desk that was originally built for Abbey Road! The harmonic distortion of the analog tape rounds off the edges, making them as soft, glowing, and lovely as a Monet landscape.

Sentimentality is not the only mood in attendance, however – there’s something sinister in the otherworldly metaphors of their lyrics like in the case of “The Jaguar Song” where Costanza sings about a jaguar licking the smile off of his face. I’m sure he means something by that but the imagery is strange and unsettling, inherently plunging the listener into a place of dream logic.

Art Of Flying gets major flower points for managing to convey a sense of Southwestern/South American mysticism without being exploitative or cheesy. For the most part, I have no time or patience for white people singing about rain forests. All right, we get it – you had a moving experience of dimethyltryptamine. Tell someone at Burning Man.

Instead Art Of Flying manages to capture the burnished bronze atmosphere of the American desert with bits of trumpet and mandolin, such as the case of the previously mentioned “The Jaguar Song.” These elements bring to mind the under-appreciated desert rock of bands like Calexico or Howe Gelb’s Giant Sand.

So you want labels? How about shamanic madrigal psychedelia? What about Christina Rossetti rock?

I’ll settle with a one-word descriptor: essential. There is not a bad moment on I’m Already Crying, a shot in the arm for the failing health of modern psychedelia. These guys need to be more well known than they are, so consider yourself informed. 

J Simpson

Available at BANDCAMP