Bevel – Where Leaves Block the Sun

Where Leaves Block the Sun

From the start, this release had immediate appeal. It’s safe to say that Via Nuon’s Bevel finds itself in good company. Known for previous work in the band Drunk, as well as an earlier Bevel release titled Turn the Furnace On, this Bevel release was produced, engineered, and mixed by Ashfield & Krassner. Michael Krassner, known for his contributions with the Boxhead Ensemble, assisted Via Nuon and friends to create a palatial, indie-folk recording. Friends you ask? Well, it’s something that Nuon calls the Council of Roussea and includes Jessica Billey on violin and vocals; Michael Krassner on piano, hammond, rhodes, harmonium, and mallet guitar; Ashfield on organ, synthesizer, keyboard, samples, and piano; Nate Lepine on flute; Stephen Dorocke on pedal steel and mandola; Deanna Varagona on vocals; Will Hendricks on upright bass; Josh Berman on trumpet; Kym Fraher on vocals; Ryan Hembrey on bass; David Pavkovic on drums; Mick Turner on melodica and loops; Fred Lonberg-Holms on cello and nickelharpa; Scott Tuma on harmonica; and Jason Adasiewics on drums and percussion. While the range of instruments can give you an idea of the unique beauty that can occur on Where Leaves Block the Sun, perhaps some of the Chicagoans playing the instruments will give you an idea of the accomplished songs that lie within.
“Exitrance” opens the album with a Japancakes-like instrumental of guitar, violin, pedal steel, and whatever other instruments that seem to easily tickle my musical fancy. Having arranged all the compositions, Nuon’s guitar work verges on a finger style like that of John Fahey and can meander as such. However, it is the often amazing accompaniment of various instrument and female vocals that really benefits from Nuon’s wavering voice. This is heard in the eight-minute plus song “Once a Pond” where the listener is clued in to the album’s title with the lyric “And I will give you my words down by the pond where the leaves block the sun” over textural violin, guitar, stand-up bass, and other mood-setting sounds. The following song, “Lamp Post,” sounds like something Bonnie “Prince” Billy might have included in his Ease Down the Road release. “Siberian Sunrise” rises from the darkness of looped sounds and a singular, simple arrangement of notes, like a cheap doorbell, playing paradigm to Nuon’s voiced introductory verse “Communism what’s the hurry we’re poor and starving / Communism what’s the hurry we’ve lost our families.”
While Nuon’s vocal delivery will not appeal to all listeners, it is his compositions here and the accompanying musicians that deserve merit. With Where Leaves Block the Sun, Bevel adds another to Jagjaguwar’s list of consistently unique indie releases.