Drummers/percussionists Jacob Chamberlain and Joseph Domrad drive the best tune here, too, "Oldest Man," which has a forward lean to it like a great Spoon song. There's an off-beat, disorienting nature to it, with a lovely story that ends in betrayal and, ultimately, tragic death. The guitar solo late is a physical presence, the reverb refracting the melody like light through water. The riffs cycle and spiral until you're completely ensnared.
Which is the ultimate proof of the album's efficacy. A world is conjured. Sometimes, with all of the "once there was" and "I'll tell you who I am," the narrative is nearly rammed down your throat, but it's completely forgivable because what they're attempting had such a degree of difficulty that their sticking the landing makes the entirety of the work a triumph. With even a slightly lesser band this could have all devolved into post-Peter, Paul, and Mary, beard-and-mumu mockery on Portlandia, but it is instead highly enjoyable and refreshingly honest.
Like Young's "After the Gold Rush" or the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood," the fantastical nature of the imagery somehow manages to be remarkably humanistic, helping us examine our own existence by discovering another. If only, like Lucy, Edmund, Sue, and Peter, we could open a door and walk inside.
"I'll take you by the hand," says the "Stark Glass Man," "and I'll tell you about the place I come from/It's cold and gray, but quiet/I own a castle there, where we can live sometimes." Count me in.
TADALOORA | Released by Phantom Buffalo | on Microcultures | with Video Nasties + An Anderson | at SPACE Gallery, in Portland | March 8 | phantombuffalo.net