NYC collective Star Rover present their eponymous album ‘Star Rover’, a cohesive yet eclectic statement, melding the improvisational energy of their live sets with the depth and fidelity of the studio to create something dynamic, aggressive, nostalgic and beautiful all at once.
Earlier, the duo (Will Graefe and Jeremy Gustin) previewed singles ‘Ghosts of New York State’ and ‘The Springs’, along with animated videos directed by Clara Trevisan that wonderfully tease this series of lyrically whimsical tales – half dreamscape, half reality.
With the break in performances caused by the pandemic, Star Rover seized the opportunity to work on their music free of time constraints. Frequent collaborator and Grammy award-winning songwriter Jesse Harris produced the new record at his Long Island studio, a fruitful exercise of telepathic communication in spirited live takes, using those as springboards for sonic experimentation.
Working with engineer Vira Byramji, environmental sounds inspired the material. In several songs, one can even hear the buzz of insects and crashing waves in the distance, in addition to two musicians playing in a woody beach house room – no headphones, just the room.
“We went to a small beach house in Long Island with our friend and collaborator Jesse Harris, who produced the record with us. Not trying to over-think or over-arrange it, we let ourselves have a blissful sort of creative week together discovering what this record might be. It seemed to encapsulate elements of what we used to be, what we are, and what we can be,” says Jeremy Gustin.
“We let the record come to us, and working with the amazing engineer Vira Biramji we often let the sounds dictate the material just as much as any pre-arranged ideas we brought. You can hear the buzz of insects and waves in the distance. Setting up microphones on the porch, I even played the wood sides of the house with my hands on a song. The whole environment, including the taste of the clam linguine Jesse would make for us are in these songs”
Through early sessions playing together at Gustin’s Bushwick loft in 2011, Gustin and Graefe bonded over their shared love of John Fahey, as well as the spiky post-rock of Deerhoof and Lightning Bolt. Later that year, they recorded their first record ‘Western Winds Bitter Christians’, a short lo-fi collection of grungy Fahey covers and distorted originals. Besides touring the USA, Europe and Japan, they are both in-demand session and touring artists, working with the likes of David Byrne, Kimbra, Bill Frissel, Okkervil River, Sam Amidon, Marc Ribot, Delicate Steve and Nels Cline, among others.
Between touring and other recording work, Star Rover’s writing developed towards futuristic post-rock, connected to the directness of folk melodies, leading to their 2018 album ‘I May Be Lost But I’m Laughing’, a more produced effort featuring such artists as Sam Evian, Shahzad Ismailly, Rob Moose (yMusic), Daniel Rossen (Grizzly Bear) and Sarah K Pedinotti.
The next year, Star Rover collaborated with Brazilian musician (and frequent Caetano Veloso collaborator) Ricardo Dias Gomes. They wrote and recorded ‘This Whole Emptiness’ album in Lisbon at the studio of Marcelo Camelo.
Written by Jeremy Gustin (Peppermintolive Publishing) and Will Graefe (Gravymusic Publishing)
Will Graefe – Guitars, vocals, bass, programming, Casio
Jeremy Gustin – Drums, percussion, vocals, programming, Op-1
Jesse Harris – Bass, Casio
Shahzad Ismaily – Bass, Moog
Produced by Star Rover and Jesse Harris
Recorded at Secret Sun East
Engineered by Vira Byramji
Mixed by ze’ Nando Pimenta
Mastered by Michal Kupicz
Videos created / directed by Clara Trevisan