Exactly one week ago I listened to this album for the first time. And then, a second time. And then, a third. I'd never heard of it or the artist before, and I might never have encountered it at all had I not happen to be in People's Records in Detroit last Friday afternoon.
For several hours that day at People's, I perused stacks upon stacks of used, sometimes badly wrecked soul 45s (because if you think some of the buildings in Detroit are in bad shape, you should see the records). Westerbur & Rowe 's self-titled platter - 44 minutes of intensely disciplined, spacial-y special, hypnotic, alternately subtle and sweeping synth/Fender Rhodes-fueled prog rock - provided the soundtrack. It's one of those recordings that takes its time getting to where its going, but doesn't waste a note. In the store that day, every time one of the single track, song title-less album sides came to an end it seemed far more inviting to start that side over again, or flip it over than play anything else. Even in a building full of records.
"It's good music to work to," remarked Brad Hales, People's owner. When not running the shop, Brad may be found on the road DJ-ing absurdly rare and good Detroit soul 45s or playing bass in his psyche rock band, Human Eye. "These are some friends of ours," he explained of W&R. "They said they never get out or go anywhere to promote themselves, so they asked if we'd sell their album."
Westerbur & Rowe is only officially available on vinyl, and in a crazy limited run at that (100 copies). It's self-released and available for purchase via Northern Ashram (no relation to Esham - well, at least I don't think, but it's Detroit - where everyone knows everyone and Danny Brown will randomly show up to do a local newspaper photo shoot at People's and chit-chat with Brad - so who knows). The album cover is beautifully designed and hand screen printed. The digital versions of the LP you'll encounter on the web (
like the one Brad supplied on his Soundcloud below ) were ripped from the vinyl, and give you some idea of what it's about. As mesmerizing as the music is, the mp3s don't really do it sonic justice. I got my copy. Only 99 or chances or fewer now to let it properly envelop your world.
UPDATE: Soundcloud link is down but you can still get it for free DL via Northern Ashram .