Get the Drift

Pub date July 9, 2008
SectionMusicSectionMusic Features

If you haven’t caught wind of the Drift, maybe you should take that coat off. This San Francisco outfit’s instrumental rock creeps deftly outward and upward into an exhilarating, rapidly unfolding sprawl, channeling dub and old school jazz fusion in its whirring excursions.

Over the phone from SF, Danny Grody, the group’s guitarist and keyboardist, happily talked about the band’s inception and recording their second album, Memory Drawings, released in April on Temporary Residence. The Drift began as a trio — including Grody; drummer Rich Douthit; and Trevor Montgomery, who later left to focus on his main project, Lazarus — coalescing tangentially to the buzzing prog-scape of Tarentel into a group with a more contemplative and spacious jazz-like dynamic. Thanks to trumpeter Jeff Jacobs’ entrance through an ad on Craigslist and the upright bass playing of Safa Shokrai, the lineup that produced 2005’s Noumena (Temporary Residence) and Memory Drawings came together.

"With our older songs, parts tended to linger a bit in the ether before they settled," said Grody, who points out that the trumpet and guitar carry the melody in tandem this time out, while the whole ensemble tightened the shifts between the "more structured elements and the more amorphous, abstract spaces" of their music. Tracks like "Golden Sands" are delightfully reminiscent of the sighing final two albums from Talk Talk: brushed drums and airy, delayed guitar work are overlaid with ghostly trumpet smears and keyboards that could have been on Terry Riley’s Rainbow in Curved Air (Columbia, 1967).

Recorded with Jay Pellicci at Tiny Telephone in SF, Memory Drawings sports a title inspired by Donal Mosher’s sleeve art, which depicts a Colter Jacobsen photograph of a moon-flash on a dark ocean at two levels of remove — a pencil drawing in an LP sleeve composed from memory of the photograph, and a second drawing rendered from a memory of the prior memory. These "memory drawings" are eerily similar to, as Grody points out, the band’s own approach to recording and live performance: their collective memory of their songs, free-form in length and in varying stages of completion, ultimately determines their recorded and performed shapes. Boasting an "arsenal of fragments" alongside more finished grooves, Grody explains, the Drift "tried to cover the spectrum from really defined pieces to things that are more skeletal" in laying their efforts to tape. These songs remain in continual drift, highlighting the beauty possible when music forges new space within the sometimes serendipitous gaps of memory.

The Drift

With Christopher Willits, Mi Ami, Tussle, and Eyes

July 17, 9 p.m., $8

Gray Area Gallery

1515 Folsom, SF