Portland's Old Light has been on one hell of a weird trajectory. The project started as a series of autoharp-intensive recordings frontman Garth Klippert played for passengers in his cab. That spawned a band and a great debut album, The Dirty Future, which sounded like an aggressive hybrid of My Morning Jacket, the Beach Boys and Black Sabbath. Then, earlier this year, Klippert said the band wouldn't release albums anymore, opting to deliver its songs via online videos. He lied.
Time is the second Old Light record released this year, part of a planned five-record blitzkrieg. Sonically, it's a stark departure from Dirty Future's hard folk-pop roots, though it is right in line with the group's tendency to defy expectations. Kicking off with "Kruise Kontrol," a trancy, fluid instrumental with shades of Morphine and acid jazz, the record jackknifes between songs like the Devo-ish "Bait and Switch" and the psychedelic, Zeppelin-y "Bad Drugs." It's on the second half of the eight-song album, though, that things get downright weird. Taking a cue from its classic-rock idols, side B of Time is one cohesive composition called "Worse Drugs," 15 minutes of backward-masked vocals, shape-shifting rhythms and spooky psychedelic atmospherics.
Taken as a whole, Old Light has offered a delightfully confusing curveball of an album. You never really know where it's going, and that's precisely what makes it great.
SEE IT: Old Light plays Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E Burnside St., with Wooden Indian Burial Ground and Au Dunes, on Saturday, April 20. 9 pm. $10. 21+.