Pentimento and Others is the debut solo album of Ezra Feinberg. You may have heard Feinberg before, through his work with psychedelic pop band, Citay. But you’ve never really heard him like he is now. Having folded the band back in 2012 the artist switched coasts; leaving San Francisco to live in Brooklyn. He moved away from making music, and life happened.
The music on Pentimento and Others is the work of an artist who is informed by process, and the shape of things in history, but who has also arrived at something new. There is a relationship here with the old order, but everything in the lungs of this creature is new – this air is vital, and refreshing.
Across seven tracks Feinberg opens old channels of psychedelic meandering. But these are musings with purpose, so while we pass through new areas to the artist we’re never lost or feel like anything is contrived for the sake of appearing other-worldly. A kind of ambient shapelessness flows over structures, so the atmosphere, especially in opening track “God Sized Hole” is ethereal, rare, but inviting.
In the time that’s passed since Feinberg folded his old band, a longtime friend and musical mentor died. He got married, he started a family – and in the process of life all points of reference have altered around his course. Of course, across these instrumental, melodic sweeps, we only arrive at a sense of things, not an explicit account of events that the artist has pinned down. This is something better, more reserved, but also more intimate. Issues are inferred, not graphically depicted, and so there’s plenty of room for imagination and the investment of the listening ear. You don’t hear anything as caustic as “I hurt” but you do sense there has been pain, and here is the trace of a bruise. But it’s not all anguish or melancholy; there is joy and a track like “True Refuge” is warm and pensive; the percussive melodies sound like a devotional offering.
For all the abstracts that Feinberg offers there are moments of incredible structure. “Kernal and Shell” feels like a classic Indian Raga – the kind of meditative sound that’s played at sunrise, but this is a sound with roots in West Africa – and we follow the thing as it lifts. There is hope here, and a leaning toward the light. Not ‘The Light’ in a religious sense, but a natural, organic appreciation of the universe. These things connect, and suggest interdependence. The contents of the seed carry all the information for the tree to grow and survive. Nothing grows from nothing.
“Pentimento” – the visible evidence of an earlier painting on the canvas that now shares a new work, is the perfect name for an album of this nature. Feinberg is smart to let history play out behind him, but also to avoid hanging too much on the exposed roots of what previously grew. He acknowledges what has gone before, but he adds the awareness of new experience. He lets go, he shows wisdom – which he would never be so crass as to claim as his own – and he delivers a stunning album of thoughtful, inspiring stuff.
For Pentimento and Others we award Ezra Feinberg all of the air inside a sleeping cello.
HURRY – LISTEN – EZRA FEINBERG
IMAGE BY DEBORAH FEINGOLD