If there's anything that San Francisco duo Higuma perfectly captured on last year's Pacific Fog Dreams, it was weightlessness. It can't be achieved through just any chain of delay pedals, and Evan Caminiti's viscid guitar layers overlapped unto themselves with unparalleled buoyancy and dimension as Lisa McGee's voice swam within. Without Caminiti accompanying her, McGee's debut album as Vestals calls from the same world as Pacific Fog Dreams with a shimmering gleam.
On Forever Falling Toward the Sky, McGee's voice escapes the brume to a position much closer to the fore. What exactly she sings on the opener is indistinct, but she richly harmonizes with herself, fronting a film of distortion against the patient lilt of a drum machine. It summons the girl-group era through a surreal lens, yielding an allure that transcends the music it references. What may be the line "If I could leave" makes the song's pull even tighter, prefacing the escapist wonder of Forever Falling's remainder.
Once the radiant overdrive dissipates, McGee lets go of percussive cadences and looks to her guitar for navigation. The dirge "Into Night" traipses through distant chords and suspended hums as her solemn lull crosses paths with its disembodied counterparts. Forever Falling is at its most placid during the 10-minute "Of Ripples", guided by a ruminative arpeggio and accumulating light rhythmic accents and swirls of rapt feedback. Our concern is with where rather than what.
Expressed within the titles of Forever Falling, setting and disposition eclipse all else. In its irreproachably concise 31 minutes, McGee fares through opaque landscapes before returning to her origins. The album's bookended by pieces that near pop but refrain from embodying it: "In Waking Dreams"'s revolving melody trails into opiate repetition, submerging into an ethereal syncope. Forever Falling is comfortably somnolent because it's aware enough to know its place.
[Buy Forever Falling Toward the Sky from Root Strata]