was a lot of things, but it was rarely gentle. A heavy, heavy band from Chapel Hill that edged blues-rock into metal territory with enviable technicality, the group bid farewell at a February show at The Kraken
. Guitarist Sam Taylor is in Morehead City now raising a family, while bassist Murat Dirlik moved to Costa Rica.
Before the move, though, Dirlik laid down a heartbreaker of a solo record, Songs From the Last Time I Died
. Today, he released it digitally under the name "Rotty."
There's no live band and no physical release—not yet, anyway—but the record doesn't seem to need them. Sonically, it's tender, wounded and quiet; emotionally, it's very
"It's so gentle and sad," says Mike Westbrook, who produced the album. "A lot of Caltrop songs, the lyrics had some melancholy to them, but this is a pretty melancholy record.
Westbrook and Dirlik go back 25 years, to high school, and have been making music together off and on since, including their time together in hip-hop outfit Kerbloki
. The songs are borne of demos Dirlik cut after a hard breakup in late 2014. The textures—the bowed bass, cello and pedal steel—were often Westbrook's idea.
Some songs feature eight or nine backing harmonies, forming the enormous washes such as the backing vocals to the euphoric "Borrowing Light (For Naynay)," while "Empty Room" feels like a dejected doo-wop song. "Why's it always gotta rain/on the broken-hearted?" Dirlik sings in the swinging "Change" over simply strummed acoustic guitar and Nathan Golub's pedal steel.
Westbrook was floored by the emotional heft of these songs, but he knew, stylistically, that Dirlik had this kind of music in him. One of the first bands these two bonded over, after all, was the Beatles, in the early ’90s.
Still, he says, "I don't think anyone's going to expect this coming from Murat."