When: Wed., March 8, 8 p.m. 2017
Whether by bike or via motorized transit, inventive Louisville-based cellist, songwriter, and singer Ben Sollee is back on the road supporting his latest LP, recorded and now performed as a duo with longtime touring percussionist Jordon Ellis. The pair's collaborative partnership, which stretches back a decade and a half to their high school days, when they met while playing with Kentucky's All-State Jazz Band, resulted in last fall's Infowars—which bears no political or thematic relation to the far-right fake news website of the same name. The album is Sollee's first full-length studio effort of his own material since 2012's Half-Made Man.
In the interim, Sollee—once of the star-studded supergroup Sparrow Quartet—composed original scores for the N.C. Dance Theatre's ballet adaptation of Dangerous Liaisons and the Actors Theatre of Louisville's production of At the Vanishing Point along with documentary film scores for the indie flick Maidentrip and the PBS picture Wonder, collaborated with choreographer David Ingram and members of the Louisville Orchestra for Postcards from America, and released an album of covers ranging from Otis Redding to Bill Monroe, among other multimedia projects. The diversity of those ventures seems to have broadened Sollee's palette when it came to shaping Infowars, which sits in stark contrast to the fleshed-out, full-band arrangements of Half-Made Man. Even so, Infowars takes an eclectic approach despite the stripped-down format. "Cajun Navy," a tribute to the brave souls who volunteer for risky rescue missions in the wake of floods and hurricanes, takes on a jaunty zydeco flavor but is chased by the cool, soulful "The Long Lavender Line" and its infusion of a sampled GPS voice between warped cello.
Elsewhere, the skittish title track is interrupted by a segment that seems to imitate the ancient, spooky organ music more often found in horror movies, but it yields to a pair of relatively straightforward, dissimilar cuts: a soaring, elegant indie rock anthem and a breezy, charming folk-pop tune. That doesn't even cover the first half of the nineteen-track, interlude-laden record, which could only be the product of an enduring musical relationship between such adventurous spirits as Sollee and Ellis. Seeing the energetic and engaging pair re-create such recordings in the spontaneity of a live setting promises to be a fascinating display of creativity and interplay. —Spencer Griffith