Woodsist Records, 2016
Review by Kent Manthie
Here we have a new album from Rafi Bookstaber. Late Summer is a wonderful album. It just flows out like water. Late Summer starts out with the mellow, wah-wah-infused psychedelia, “We Can Find a Way”, which seamlessly goes into “You Get High”. The whole thing is a pleasantly soporific experience, with more of a focus on the music, rather than vocals qua vocals. The first two cuts are, for the most part, instrumental jams, with some abstract chanting here and there. When we get to “Ocean Above You”, the overall structure of the music is still there, but there are vocals here; lyrics that have been written. Although, Rafi’s singing sounds somewhat distant, as if it’s coming from far off, while the music, mostly a mix of swirling, enchanting guitars, is playing at full-throttle. “In the Shade” has a similar quality. He also does a great interpretation of the old standard, “Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain”, made famous by Ray Charles.
As far as putting a label on Bookstaber’s music, I’ve read in a couple places where his music has been called “folk-ish”, “psychedelic”, and similar terms. I don’t know if I’d concur, though, with the “folk” thing, though. Listening to Late Summer, there are different vibes that flow through me, but a “folk” sentiment isn’t one of them. As far as the slow, psychedelia, the distortion, and that echoing effect, Late Summer reminds me of Spacemen 3, with their doped-up, shoegazing style. The electric sitar which wriggles throughout the album, also lends more to the dreamy, euphoric atmosphere of it all.
This is a great album. Really. I’ve heard some great stuff so far, that’s come out this year. Indie albums full of great music, the kind of stuff that gives one hope, that shows that not all modern “rock”, i.e., all the various subgenres out there, especially Top 40 bubblegum “pop” fluff. So many great, yet, under-marketed, DIY bands/singers out there, making some great stuff. But Late Summer is such a gem, so great, yet so different from most albums that have also come out this year, that people should be made aware of this disc.
The closing cut, “Make Up Yr Mind”, is eight minutes of bliss; a dust devil of music, several guitars all dubbed together, an instrumental that sounds a lot like the Velvet Underground, e.g., the pounding, steady beat on the drums, not unlike Mo Tucker’s drumming. And the serpentine, druggy arabesques with what sounds like an organ in the background, underneath the guitars; all of this gives it a bit of what sounds like the long, instrumental part of “European Son (for Delmore Schwartz)”. That is still quite a thrilling ride. “Make Up Yr Mind” is the ending part of what has already been a sensational, delightful fantasy trance. If you want to check out Late Summer, see what it’s all about for yourself, go and visit, http://www.woodsist.com/catalog/12/rafi-bookstaber-late-summer-lp/ – the Woodsist Records website page for Rafi Bookstaber. From there, one can purchase a copy, as well. -KM.