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Roy Montgomery's music is like swimming through phantoms, each entity a haunting, illuminating new spectral phase. It was Montgomery's guitar work and deep, warbling vocals that have disoriented far-out New Zealand rock bands like The Pin Group, Dadamah and Dissolve, along with his solo material, since the 1980s. But Montgomery has always been self-effacing about his own voice: "It's lazy," he told Perfect Sound Forever in 2003. "That's basically what it is. And sometimes that's good. Lazy singers, when they're good, they're really good. I'm very rarely on target."
While working on alternate takes for Tropic of Anodyne — the only vocal-led album from a series of four guitar records released simultaneously in 2016 — Montgomery was inspired to write instrumental pieces with some singers in mind: Circuit Des Yeux's Haley Fohr, She Keeps Bees' Jessica Larrabee, Julianna Barwick, Katie Von Schleicher, Purple Pilgrims' Clementine and Valentine Nixon. The result is Suffuse, due out in August but announced today with the song "Landfall," featuring Grouper's Liz Harris.
Harris and Montgomery have shared vinyl before, on a limited-edition split LP from 2010. Their kinship has bloomed in the time since (at least, if disintegrating ambient music can bloom). In the six-minute "Landfall," the duo are sonically sympathetic in their understanding of space, filling an echoing cathedral with divine distortion and a volume that crests, but never breaks. The layers of guitar don't so much blast as they recede into shadow, Harris' voice ebbing the waves of enchanted noise.
Suffuse comes out Aug. 17 via Grapefruit Records.