A New York guitarist with current membership among the city's avant-garde, Kleier appreciates drones, feedback and sheer racket, but he's not above incorporating more accessible sonic elements as well. "We Speak of Deep Night," the introductory track, begins slowly, with several minutes of semi-ambient humming and buzzing occasionally interspersed with gentle fingerpicking that emerges like a full moon from a behind a cloud bank. The tension builds until the unexpected arrival of a rudimentary drum pattern, which spurs Kleier into a mid-tempo flurry of riffing that's simultaneously noisy and gorgeous. So, too, is the next offering -- "The Juan Cortina Suite," a three-movement opus inspired by the story of an outlaw, circa the 1800s. Rather than going for easy effects, Kleier opts for cinematic sweep instead, creating an atmospheric soundscape that suggests an otherworldly Ennio Morricone.
A few of the cuts that follow are less impressive, including "Brickyard," a noodle without much flavor, and the relatively prosaic "Lodi." But when Kleier's on, as he is throughout the moody conclusion, "We Speak of Deep Autumn," he's capable of wringing deeply emotive tones from the most familiar of instruments.
That said, no major label would ever issue something as odd as Deep Night, Deep Autumn, despite its many merits. Which is another reason to celebrate Starkland's anniversary and to wish it many more.