Without Star Or Compass

Night Time Stories • 2022

Eric Phillips calls himself Kennebec and lives in Portland, Oregon. The fact that the grass there is greener, the meadows lusher and the trees grow taller and thicker than in most other parts of the States can certainly be heard in »Without Star Or Compass«.  On his second LP, Kennebec creates soundscapes that melodize the distance, the expanse, the longing and the striving of the ego on the path to the greatest possible form of self-discovery. At times that sounds corny and as if the early Justin Vernon project DeYarmond Edison had contributed a song to the final episode in a series of »Grey’s Anatomy« (»Leaving The Canyons«, together with Samuel T. Herring), but nevertheless gets a lot of things right with its exuberant emotionality, which is mainly played on the keyboard of melancholy.  For as easy as it is to lambast serious, soulful music, I think you have to admit that at the back of your mind, it works every time.  Sure, the rap number »Tall Tales« – again with Herring as Hemlock Ernst and, get this, Sudan Archives – may not be everyone’s cup of tea with its backpacker gesture; but introspective tracks like »The Great Divide« with Yazz Ahmed’s jazz trumpet, which sounds like early Bonobo café vibes, or the short »Friendship Song« with its theatrical guitar-strings doubling allow us to wallow sentimentally in the past while making big plans for the future.