Parker Longbough – Bridges to Nowhere/Delirium in Lo-Fi
Following the disbanding of his onetime outfit Uncle Jesse, Alaskan native Matthew Witthoeft adopted the recording moniker Parker Longbough for a new project with a shifting lineup. The first release from his new endeavor, the 2006 full length album Commander Comatose, brought together unlikely stylistic bedfellows such as electronic pop and stripped down alt country into a surprisingly potent mix. The second release from this project is entitled Bridges to Nowhere/Delirium in Lo-Fi and it finds Witthoeft raising the artistic stakes considerably and building on the first album’s immense promise. The fifteen song cycle has conceptual components, track four through eleven are meant to be heard as one musical work with ambient and spoken word collages acting as a sort of connecting tissue between the base songs. The subject matter of these tracks is often dark and even harrowing, but it is songwriting possessed with fire and unflinching vulnerability.
The descending, mid-tempo jangle of guitars on the opener “Hall Pass” is matched up well with some laconic vocals and assertive drumming. The choruses features a bit of light guitar phasing and certainly amps the volume, but it contrasts well with the verses. Witthoeft’s slightly nasal vocals show remarkable flexibility as the song progresses. “Sophia Loren Lookalike” definitely has some classic country feel, but there’s plenty of alt-rock influence bleeding through as well. Witthoeft’s lyrics are remarkable three songs in and he delivers them without a hint of irony or sentimentality. “Super Shitty” starts off with a smattering of voice over before transitioning into another mid-tempo amble spiked with some tasteful keyboards. The recording of the vocals on this track lacks some of the immediacy we heard on earlier recordings. “The Bell Jar” has a remarkably dissonant percussion track that keeps listeners vaguely on guard from its first seemingly wayward shift. It’s one of the many literary references littering Bridges to Nowhere/Delirium in Lo-Fi and artfully used. “Pleasure Receptors” is hard charging, churning alternative rock that doesn’t make any nods towards the lo-fi country and electronic elements so strongly evidenced on other parts of the release.
Parker Longbough goes in for some more slightly dissonant, at least off-kilter, alt rock with the song “May Kashara” and slightly surreal, but never nonsensical, lyric adds to the weird atmosphere. Despite the idiosyncratic charm of the songwriting, there’s a powerfully affecting emotional tenor to this song that sneaks up on your over time. Electronic music and acoustic guitars come together impressively on the track “Breakfast at the Eagles” and the elegiac quality of the performance is unmistakable. There’s a slight slur on the drums that makes plays quite logically in the context of the song. “April 23rd, 1991” makes excellent use of keyboards and has a much jauntier air than many of the other songs on this release. The ragged but right approach on many of these tracks draws on a number of influences, but they sound fully subsumed into how Witthoeft wants to express himself. Bridges to Nowhere/Delirium in Lo-Fi ends with the song “Jon and Mariena Suite”, an electronically driven instrumental that brings the album to close with a coda of sorts. It’s an effective outside the box ending to an album that follows no rules. Parker Longbough aims for big results here and accomplishes them through the sheer dint of sweat and skill.