Though he has enjoyed his share of indie-rock adulation, Geoff Farina's prior projects, Secret Stars and Karate, were hardly typical rockers. Toward the end, Karate was playing art galleries and nontraditional spaces (read: bars) in an attempt to find a better fit for its jazzy, minimalist postrock. Farina picks up that thread with his new project, Glorytellers, which, after three years of obsessing by Farina, releases its self-titled debut April 8.
Though cut from the same mold as his prior outfits — subtle, inventive, slowly winding songcraft — Glorytellers is definitely something new. Written on a cheap classical guitar, the songs have a flamenco sound that drifts over a jazzy drum beat; an accompanying acoustic guitar fills out the bass line. The overall effect combines the delicacy of Iron & Wine with the angular acoustic tone of the For Carnation, but with something unmistakably Farina.
He's been working on the album since 2005, having recorded it three times before arriving at something satisfactory. After beginning with a guitar-bass-drums format, Farina realized he wanted something more than what he calls a "budget Karate." He conceived of a sound with guitars interplaying like siblings.
"The two different guitarists sort of define the chords together," Farina says. "Like Steve Reich, where there are a lot of arpeggios going on at the same time and the chords slowly unfold instead of ... these big block chords that hit you in the head and do the same thing over and over again. The idea's a little more blurry sometimes and a bit harder to get your head around."
Similarly, the lyrics don't follow a linear narrative but frequently employ the image-rich style of Farina's prior bands. The music moves in cascades around his undulating prose, which gravitates toward themes of nature and decay. He says he wanted the lyrics to be more prominent as he explored big-picture ideas.
"When I was younger, writing songs for Karate, you tend to have this kind of naïve solipsism where you think you're the center of the world. And that's a great part of rock music and music made by young people, but I've really worked hard to kind of get over that and be more of an observer, to see things as cyclical," Farina says.
"There might be something that you're writing about that's disturbing or sad, but I don't want to see it that way. I want to see it as part of something bigger and something that's natural," he adds. "Like, 'Exclusive Hurricanes' is a metaphor for this hubris and entitlement that I see in American culture and the Bush administration, but the chorus is Here comes the storm to wash that all away. I want there to be this redemptive quality to the music."