Much like the billboard on its cover, the music of the Powers/Rolin Duo’s The Nightland is a gleaming light in the oppressive darkness that seems to be filling our world right now, providing us a little hope and illuminating a path out of the gloom.
Comprised of two side-long pieces, this album finds Jen Powers building dense shimmering walls of sound with her reverb-treated hammered dulcimer, while her partner, Matthew J. Rolin, weaves soaring fantasias around her flock of dazzling notes on his 12-string acoustic.
The first track, “Oval,” features Rolin channeling an entire orchestra through his instrument. As he flies across his fretboard, you can hear string sections, woodwinds and percussion all within his lightning fast fingerpicking. Meanwhile, Powers’ dulcimer playing is so fast and rings so sweetly, it almost sounds like a second guitar backing Rolin up.
Even though this song is more like a suite, with various peaks and valleys in its tempo and energy, the tone remains consistently upbeat and tender. It gives you that warm, dewey-eyed feeling that you get when you’ve returned to your idealized home, after being away for far too long. This vibe really hits its mark during the track’s peaceful conclusion, which is both charming and greatly satisfying.
The second track, “Iridescent,” leans more into a hypnotic raga-like territory. Layers of looping steel-stringed guitar lull you into a deep, trance-like state, while Powers’ bowed and drummed dulcimer wash over you like a healing torrential rain storm. If there was ever a piece of music that made you feel as though you were sliding into a dream, this is it.
There’s a glowing compassion within these recordings that is simply undeniable. The Powers/Rolin Duo’s music seems to be filled with the contagious appreciation and love of what’s beautiful in this bent, imperfect world of ours. I say it’s contagious, because whenever you listen to this, or any of their other releases, you too are reminded of the good and the magic of the life around you. As our society treks forward into uncharted territories during and after the pandemic, we’re going to need albums like The Nightland to help show us the way towards a brighter future.
You can get this album today from Trouble in Mind Records digitally and on cassette. Click here to get your copy now.