words by tom johnson
photograph by richard gin
Music often finds a way of providing a real-time soundtrack to the world around the listener, subtly settling as a backdrop to the day-to-day tasks that become, well, us; the plain and unadorned stories of ourselves. Beyond these homely pastures, Oliver Kalb’s work as Bellows has primarily existed – and now positively flourishes – in opposite ways. Which is to say that we, you and I, get lifted up and thrust deep into the heart of the strange new world his work creates and inhabits. Fourth album, The Rose Gardener (his first release on Topshelf Records) is suitably enigmatic, following this same blueprint which came into beautiful fruition on 2016’s ‘Fist & Palm’ while crafting a whole new landscape to explore.
This time around, rather than present great coloured skies and vistas, The Rose Gardener feels more pin-pointed, an exploration of what’s directly around us; a world within a world (the proverbial garden), but also lingering dark corners, the parts of our brain we don’t often find ourselves in.
Musically, The Rose Gardener finds Kalb and co. in similarly stylistic mood to what’s come before, this aforementioned world brought into life through a series of skewed, odd-pop signatures, both light and dark, shaped by the manipulated vocals and the playful and plentiful rhythmic instrumentals that burst into bloom with the most graceful of touches.
The kind of record that feels tenderly consuming when you’re inside of it, and strangely dream-like when you’re not, the new album is another adventurous and emotive collection of songs, earthy and raw but idiosyncratic too; a maze-like allegory of pop songs, full of twists and turns you can’t explain. Stream the whole thing below right now, ahead of its full release this coming Friday via Topshelf.
The Rose Gardener is released on Friday, via Topshelf Records
You can buy it here
3/1 – Albany, NY @ Chateau
3/2 – Kingston, NY @ BSP
3/3 – Boston, MA @ O’Brien’s #
3/7 – Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade
3/8 – Philadelphia, PA @ PhilaMOCA #
3/9 – Washington, DC @ Comet Ping Pong #
3/10 – Asheville, NC @ The Mothlight*
3/11 – Nashville, TN @ DRKMTTR*
3/12 – Little Rock, AR @ White Water Tavern*
3/13 – Austin, TX @ Topshelf Records Official SXSW Showcase @ Cheer Up Charlie’s*
3/14 – Denton, TX @ Andy’s Basement
3/16 – Austin, TX @ FRIEND OASIS @ SXSW*
3/17 – New Orleans, LA @ The Starlight*
3/18 – Atlanta, GA @ 529*
3/19 – Durham, NC @ Duke Coffeehouse*
3/20 – Baltimore, MD @ Joe Squared*
# = w/ Shannen Moser
* = w/ Another Michael