Breaking the cycle of the album-every-two-year turnaround, ambient acoustic artist Valaska is back with the recent release of Inchoate following only a year after the very different Thing. This album is a unique creation; multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Dave Valdez breathes an illustrious and curious life into each of the songs on this LP. His generally narrow vocal range resonates in a comfortable and familiar way. In fact, listening to Inchoate sort of feels like returning somewhere you belong by way of a quiet dirt road at twilight.
The balance of mostly acoustic instruments and quiet, breathy vocals is favored by piano loops accompanied by delicately chosen guitar riffs. However, when Valdez allows for the showboating of his unexpectedly gifted voice, songs like “Sun Dogs” and “Violence” take on a new, quaint life of their own. The tracks on the work, Valaska’s third full-length album, not occupied by a strong vocal presence often have a contemplative essence and are as soothing as they are mysterious (see “Human Condition” and “Sad Bones”).
As a whole, Inchoate is creatively nostalgic. However, it does have a nouveau presence that jives well with this throwback feel. Together, these tendencies create something that feels as if it has never been done before. As largely self-deprecating it may be, it is a passable soundtrack to life in the metaphorical minor key. With its undeniable meditative undertone, “Hold Me Back” is the poster child for the album, with a close runner up in the predominantly instrumental “Vessel.”
The name may suggest a slightly haphazard product by definition. But, after a spin, it’s clear the name is tapped from another source. It seems to be driven by internal inventory and a brutally honest confession of an incomplete heart. Yet, by the end of this twisting tale of a learned life, all that remains is a desire for more of the same. If that isn’t the ultimate truth of a new record, I don’t know what is.