The sort of down-at-heel folk baladeering which Tillman specialises in is a popular market to say the least, teeming with over-earnest chancers trying desperately to convince us of their authenticity. However, authenticity is something weaved so intricately into the fabric of Tillman’s compositions that he doesn’t even have to try. And perhaps that’s the secret to success.»
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'year in the kingdom' unravels some kind of galactic wilderness. tillman's 6th album lyrically borders on mystic; proffering a transcendent union, an effortlessness. strange and honest, this song cycle inhabits it's own idea-scape; one seemingly obsessed with wrestling death. these are afterlife dialogues of a mysterious future. celestial badlands. unknown to just about everyone, tillman started recording in april, tracking most of the instruments during the two week session himself. hammered dulcimer, banjo, recorder, cymbals of varying size and wheezing air organs all feature heavily and lend yitk it's bizarre scale, conjuring tidal shifts with tiny movements. the string arrangements, performed by jenna conrad, as well as transposed from tillman's sung direction, were intended to rest on chords almost counter-intuitively, bringing to bloom complex, decontextualized tones. most noticeable upon first listen, however, is the production itself. while most of tillman's records evidence some shambolic home recording, yitk is undisturbed throughout. out up front of the mix, and dry as a bone, tillman's voice is featured in a way unlike any of his previous records. 'year in the kingdom' sounds liberated; it is far and away tillman's most joyful work. created with little input or context, it is seemingly disinterested in communicating much else than a meditation for the few who allow themselves to listen with an open heart.
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