Essential New Music: Talk West’s “Black Coral Sprig”

If your impressions of the American West have been shaped by its cinematic representations, sooner or later, your mind will dredge up images of campfire action. Days Of Heaven, The Cowboys, Dead Man—things seem to happen around the campfire. Dylan Golden Aycock doesn’t make a big deal about it, but he knows it’s true. Talk West is just one of the irons in his fire; he’s also a solo fingerstyle guitarist, a touring drummer and a record-label boss. But it’s the one where Aycock waxes filmic.

Most of Talk West’s releases have come in small numbers, often on ephemeral formats. The Australian Preservation label originally released Black Coral Sprig on CD in 2014, but now, thanks to Aycock’s Scissor Tail Editions, it’s Talk West’s only recording to make it to vinyl. You won’t have to listen too hard to grasp why it’s getting special treatment. Each of its compositions is geared to evoke emotionally charged images.

Close your eyes and you’ll envision something you’ve lost as the guitar figures cascade in slow motion throughout “Willow And The Dogwood.” The viola phrases and resonant loops on “Light Black” might stir memories of something you have found, or someone who found you. And the passage of blurred keyboards before a backdrop of crackle and chimes on “Solitary Blossoms” will make you smell the smoke, feel the heat and recall whatever you learned around some fading fire. There’s no shortage of music out there that aims to become your psychological soundtrack, but this album delivers the goods.

—Bill Meyer