North Americans—the project of guitarist Patrick McDermott and pedal steel player Barry Walker—will return a month from today with Long Cool World via Third Man Records (preorder today on CD, LP, and cassette). Today via Flood, McDermott and Walker share new single “The Last Rockabilly,” paired with an evocative music video by filmmakers Rocco Rivetti and Gilles O'Kane.
O’Kane and Rivetti had this to say about the work:
Our video for “The Last Rockabilly” aims to bring the meditative nature of the song to the forefront while the experimental narrative reflects upon each character as they traverse through existence. The initial concept came from the hypnotic feeling one gets while driving and forgetting how they’ve traveled from start to finish.
Uncut premiered Long Cool World’s first offering “Classic Water” last month, describing North Americans as ”top-drawer ambient Americana” while NPR Music breaks down how the track “reassesses the duo's musical relationship.”
Though you may hear plenty of clear influences here—Long Cool World does exist firmly in the American Primitive tradition, after all—there are a few that exist just under the radar, but offer up fascinating context to not just the album’s roots, but how McDermott and Walker think about composition in general: guitar loops repeat until they become abstractions of themselves, drawing inspiration from McDermott’s love of DC hypnotic hardcore experimentalists Lungfish and the delicate compositions of Loren Connors circa Airs. Walker, for his part, draws inspiration from older sounds—Michael Hurley’s deceptively simple guitarwork, Washington Phillips’ zither, the “polyphonic harmonies of the Bosavi and Mbuti people,” and much more. “I draw inspiration from old forms,” Walker says. “Ancient melodies that have tumbled and been rounded in the waters of oral tradition, settled into folk and classical music, and then eroded again.”
This erosion, followed by a sort of contextual rebuilding, is a central theme found in not just the music on Long Cool World, but the North Americans project as a whole. As if Walker and McDermott are perpetually seeking to answer the questions: what happens when we create and collaborate instinctually? And how do we channel the unpredictability of influence into a cohesive song cycle that seeks not to portray a single moment or memory, but instead a state of being that is exactly as natural as the world it was borne from? Long Cool World doesn’t so much answer those questions as it does sit with them, comfortable in the wild beauty of modern life.
North Americans – Long Cool World out on April 07