White Flight is the new solo project from Justin Roelofs, former songwriter of The Anniversary. A dense head trip of an album that pulls together a wide variety of influences, this self-titled debut comes across like a cross between a lo-fi Beck and the Animal Collective in places, with programmed beats, bursts of noise, horns, filtered vocals, and all kinds of other odd instrumentation. Supposedly the experience of drinking a psychedelic potion deep in the forests of Peru reconnected him with the joy and purity of creating music, and Roelofs came back to middle America (Kansas, to be precise) and laid down the musical ideas that had bloomed in his head.
I always tend to cringe a bit when artists mention drugs or mystical experiences as influences for their music, but at the same time I know that some great art has been both inspired by and recorded while under the influence. As critical as I want to be about White Flight, though, I find it a bit hard. The album is indeed a joyous release in most places, moving with a delightful whimsy and childlike fascination with sound that's hard to deny.
The album opens with "Now," and sputtery breakbeats are mixed with melodica, filtered horn bursts, acoutic guitars, and blasts of feedback while Roelofs howls some warbling vocals over it all. It mixes directly into "Pastora Divine" and the track has a similar feel, with piles of organs, guitars, and filtered noisy blasts that offset the babbling vocals almost perfectly. The bedroom-sounding, but dense production - including the often unintelligible vocals - is part of the rough charm of the disc, and even when he's taking things slower the album has plenty of memorable sonics.
"Solarsphere" is a great example, pouring over-the-top vocals, ramshackle piano, acoustic guitar, organs, and heavy-metal guitars into three minutes that you can't help but yowl along with. There are a few softer spots on the release, especially towards the end of the release where he mixes some field recordings into some more aimless pieces. With thirteen tracks running just over forty minutes, though, White Flight jumps around pretty quickly and even during the weaker spots never gets stuck in one spot for too long. It's at its messy best on tracks like the loud "Deathhands," where again a pile of instrumentation melts together over chunk beats while nonsensical vocals veer between yelps and hip-hop influenced rhythmic phrasing. Far from a perfect debut, it's nonetheless a heck of a lot of fun, and a nice first solo step for Roelofs.