Carrying an ungainly waltzing swagger, Station Wagon Interior Perspective stumbles into view, occasionally stopping to rekindle its frail sense of balance. Like a drunken big band quartet falling asleep in a smoky bar, or perhaps a hobbling locomotive crawling forth on its very last legs, Stillman’s music fumbles with the few ounces of momentum it has at its disposal – swooning brass, rhodes and brush kit resound in unison and then momentarily fragment, as if collapsing under the weight of multiple instruments played at once. 2011’s Machine’s Song also exuded this giddy forward motion, although here the music is sparser – littered with patient dips into low volume – and thus greater emphasis is granted to the music’s perilously loose sense of cohesion.
By the time we get to “Stomp” (part three of this four-movement suite) things are beginning to stick together, and a sturdy 4/4 groove has taken the helm. The way the melodies unfold via those quivering trumpet bursts is narrative-rich, slinking between slow and mournful groans and the jovial midst of dance; Stillman is a playful manipulator of volume and tempo, constantly teasing at the dimensions of both by rolling the record through various fluidly negotiated transitions in mood. And as with Machine’s Song, a fantastically rickety brush kit performance sits right at the centre. Wonderfully distinctive music.