In an era of fast
food culture and paint-by-numbers imagination, John Vanderslice has created
a sonic masterpiece with his latest release, Cellar Door. The San Francisco
resident spent 420 hours in his own studio, Tiny Telephone, to craft a unique
collection of cinematic, emotional atmospheres that underscore tales of isolation,
regret, loss, and gentle defiance. However, one should not come to the invalid
conclusion that the albums tone is depressing. As only a brilliant artist
can achieve, Vanderslices songs ultimately manage to rise above the
difficult themes, which provide the listener with cathartic pleasure and resigned
Unlike many gifted
solo artists, Vanderslice generously shares credit for his artistic triumph
with the albums co-producer and engineer, Scott Solter. He praises, Once
you record with him [Solter], theres a certain approach he has that youre
just not going to find anywhere else.
Vanderslice, a devout audiophile, always insists upon recording with analog
equipment. He believes that many digital recordings of today, while technically
flawless, lack the warmth and depth of Rocks classic albums. He
laments, People cant help but to correct stuff [when recording]
and I just think things need to be absolutely uncorrected and subverted . .
. Rock and Roll has a little bit of violence and a little bit of messiness.
To capture the various moods throughout the album, the multifaceted musician
foregoes sterile perfection in favor of personality and character. In comparing
his process to the clinical approach most musicians take, the singer observes,
Its unbelievable how much you can get away with and people forget
that when theyre recording. They start . . . obsessing and that is the
death of energy in music.
Cellar Door is clearly an apt title because the songs give listeners
the sense that they are experiencing intimate, genuine beauty. Anyone who craves
masterful songwriting and passionate performances will savor every moment of
John Vanderslices most powerful creation to date.