Dante Carfagna is known as a deep record collector, known for his love of the soul and funk of Ohio, but also a purchaser of obscure recordings. As the founder of Memphix Records, he is also the man behind the artist known as Express Rising, creating a musical sensibility that is an exploration of the music he finds and listens to. It had been ten years since Express Rising released an album, and in that time, Carfagna had been a bit busy with a wide range of projects, both offline and on. The news of a new album came as a total shock, but a delight to those who were in the know. Now, those in the know will know again the sounds of Express Rising.
The new album is self-titled again, and unlike the first album which featured a photo of a lake and trees in the background, this one was taken within the city in front of an apartment building. Both covers look like either tossed-out photos found in an old photo album, which may also refer to the tossed-out sensibilities of the music found on the albums, or a metaphor to take oneself out of the familiar and into the somewhat strange, even though this music is anything but strange.
Like the first album, Express Rising features songs taken from a wide range of sources, most of which are pulled from obscure custom press/private press records barely anyone knows about, which is the whole point. Unlike many producers who will take the obscure and try to make it sound dope and fresh, Carfagna becomes a part of the territory and will make a song that may have fit in from the era of the original recordings. Some of it maybe rootsy folk, some of it may be un-progressive progressive rock or pop, or maybe it’s someone playing a guitar. At least that’s what happens for the majority of the album. Things eventually lead to sections of the album where things truly do get funky, and you’re left wondering “what in the world is he doing, and how did he make it sound so damn good?” Okay, maybe people aren’t saying the latter, because I’d like to think that when the music he collects and writes about, there’s some sense that he knows very much what he’s doing, but it’s more about what he’s doing it with. Then the album moves into something that could have been created by Jandek’s distance cousin, and it allows the music to be moody and retrospective, if you allow it to be.
Express Rising is the creation of someone who knows, understands, and loves music, but does it in a way that isn’t typical of what everyone else is doing, yet he knows exactly what everyone else is doing, and throws it out at the most opportune times. I’m sure this will be pressed in an extremely limited edition, just like the first album, so find this if you can and never let go. If we’ll have to wait until 2023 for the next one, I will make sure to be around to enjoy it.