Recumbent Speech, Ezra Feinberg’s second album, opens with a lament. Named for the Robert Frost poem, “Acquainted with the Night” was written during one of the many devastating spectacles of injustice under our current regime. Repeating flutes and synths beam out of a low-end darkness, reflecting a collective sense of loss and alienation. Rising slowly, thickening with guitars and strings, “Acquainted with the Night” lifts off, and so too does the album from there. The second track, “Letter to my Mind,'' features the dynamic interplay of Feinberg's guitar with the loose and playful drumming of Tortoise's John McEntire, both pushing and pulling atop a looping bass figure. "Palms Up" begins with a lockstep pulse recalling early Terry Riley before jumping into an Ashra-like jam with Afrobeat accents. Side B opens with "Ovation," a tryptic with McEntire on drums which sets a wide lens onto a sweeping landscape, with soaring flutes, wordless vocals, and a hypnotic bassline played on a humming fretless that recalls classic ECM jazz-fusion. The piece plunges into an ambient, interior space before reemerging with a guitar solo fried through an old Space Echo effects processor, conjuring lidded Pompeii-era Pink Floyd.
The album's title-track finale, "Recumbent Speech," features the magical pedal steel of Chuck Johnson. Unwinding atop a Balearic analog synth pattern, Feinberg stretches textures of Fender Rhodes and acoustic guitar around Johnson’s lyrical steel, with nods to Japanese ambient legend Hiroshi Yoshimura, as well as Cluster & Eno. Recumbent Speech refers to the possibilities, pleasures, fears, and fantasies that occur the moment the noise dies down, when we are recumbent, in repose but still awake, still speaking, and still aware of ourselves as part of the maddening world. Ezra Feinberg is a guitarist, composer, and psychoanalyst living in Jackson Heights, NY. Feinberg was the founding member of the San Francisco psychedelic rock collective Citay, releasing albums on Important Records and Dead Oceans throughout the 2000s. After relocating to NYC, he issued his first solo record, Pentimento and Others, on his imprint Related States and on cassette on Stimulus Progression in 2018.
The release, his first since Citay folded in 2012, earned praise from numerous music outlets including Paste Magazine, The Wire, Stereogum, Vice, and Aquarium Drunkard. In recent years, Feinberg has performed and toured near and far with Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Steve Gunn, Alexander Turnquist, Cruel Diagonals, Daniel Carter, Jonas Reinhardt, Christopher Tignor, Kath Bloom, Robbie Lee, High Aura’d, Glasser, Ava Mendoza, Buck Curran, Real Estate, and many others, and has ongoing studio collaborations with Jefre Cantu-Ledesma and Arp, contributing both guitar and songwriting to the last Arp album Zebra.
ecumbent Speech invites you to a world so vivid and intricately textured that you might feel like you are part of it. “Acquainted With the Night,” named after a Robert Frost poem, opens with the sound of Ezra Feinberg’s fingerpicked acoustic guitar, recorded closely enough to hear his fingers brush the strings. The sense of solitude in tight quarters doesn’t last long: Soon, he is surrounded by synth, flute, piano, and fretless bass—a cosmic pastoral landscape, not far from the ones Popol Vuh played to soundtrack Werner Herzog movies in the ’70s. Feinberg’s hypnotic, wordless compositions grow this way, one instrument at a time, letting you settle in before he sweeps you away. In the 2000s, Feinberg led the San Francisco band Citay. Across three records, the collective drew on styles that were largely unfashionable in indie music: soft rock, jam bands, new age. Ten years since the release of their last album, their earnest embrace of these genres feels ahead of its time. “I don’t feel a need to distance myself from anything I like,” he explained in 2006. “If anything, I want to bring myself (and my bandmates, as well as my friends and family) closer to everything I like.” The same way that artists like Jim O’Rourke or Oneohtrix Point Never return to a distinct set of influences through their myriad releases, Feinberg seemed to create a canon within his own work. You could count the references, but you’d lose track of the feeling: a radiant sense of positivity drawn from the most meditative corners of his record collection. His second solo album since disbanding Citay and moving to Brooklyn, Recumbent Speech is his most distinct and embracing work. He still draws on many of those same influences, but his work is less tethered to his versatile guitar playing. He is an expert bandleader, guiding a group of like-minded musicians to bring each composition to life. At other times, he is more like a free-form DJ. These six songs are unified by their slow-building serenity and enveloping atmosphere, maintaining a singular mood while Feinberg jumps between genres and influences. Minimalist classical explorations sit beside campfire folk strumming; ambient synths give way to nimble fusion. No two songs sound quite alike, and each of them might feel like the centerpiece on any given listen.