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Comprador – don’t worry about it | Glittering Astral Vision

We would have to decide between describing the music of Comprador as a rich painting of inventive sonic rock delight or a diversely woven tapestry of sounds. Comprador is the indie experimental rock project of Philadelphia native Charles D’Ardenne. With don’t worry about it, D’Ardenne displays his stunning genius in instrumental songwriting with an emotive and gritty vocal performance. The genres on the record lie around indie, alternative rock, progressive music, and dream pop. Indie meets songwriting ingenuity and virtuosity in musicianship in don’t worry about it. The album was initially a concept album based around the ultimate Greek mythological tragic figure Icarus and his inventor father Daedalus. However, the lyrical themes of the album grew much beyond.

The album begins with Lose in the Dark and we’re greeted with polyrhythms and the conspicuous hi-hat. Comprador’s hazy voice sets the bittersweet and organic backdrop for the record. The second track I’m not Free without you is dreamy shoegaze. We’re greeted with a fuzzy and reverby guitar intro. The dense arrangement in the second half of the track sounds stunning with outstanding vocal harmonies and true guitar layering wizardry.

From heady ballads, we enter heavy hard rock territory with Inquisitors. The track is alternative rock with grunge and industrial elements tied along some synth-electro chordal characteristics. Inquisitors seamlessly morphs into Premeditated in the First Degree, which is a continuation in the musical narrative. Here we hear some heavy layering in the rhythm section. Both these tracks form a block in the album’s journey. After the heavy buildup, we are served with some tasty polymers on a radiant clean Love Eternal. This track has a contemplative and pensive vibe to it.

We return to unconventional rhythms and chunky guitar riffs on Inventions. We get our Icarus lyrical reference on this track. Death of an Only Child is written from the perspective of Icarus’ Daedalus on seeing his son collapse. The sombre track ends with a humming vocal outro and eery synth elements. Sunrise and Sun Running are a duo that create an aura of compelling doom. The aural spectrum and surround work on these are something to be relished on a good sound system. Penultimate track Climb the Sky begins with an almost Stone Roses-like sound with chorus drenched guitars and pulsating bass. With its multi-layered arrangement and heavy chorus, it gives a nostalgia-inducing starry feeling. The guitar solo on this is guitar solo elegant yet simple and fiery.

The final concluding track is a stunning alt-indie rock cover of Kacey Musgraves’ country-pop hit Butterflies featuring artist Blue. D’Ardenne and Blue effortlessly waltz through this one. The drum grooves matching with the riffs make it a lively alternative number. The guitar solo with its raw tone duplicating the main chorus melody is a cherry on the cake and the perfect note to end the album on.

don’t worry about it is experimental alt-progressive rock and dream pop elements with a coarse and organic feel. The guitar tones and the overall arrangement is something a musician and the innovative rock fan would truly enjoy. The drum work on the album sets it above other works in the genre. The album is stunningly mixed by Steve Wethington and mastered by Joshua Hayes. Their work ensures the album maintains its rawness while allowing us to savour the sonic range of the music. The highlights of the record are Inquistors, Inventions, Butterfles, Lose in the Dark, and Sun Running. This is a record Jeff Buckley would be proud of. Comprador’s don’t worry about it is a work of deep beauty and musical brilliance in the glorious alternative rock tradition.

We get to discuss the album and other things with Charles D’Ardenne aka Comprador.

1. Congrats on the amazing new album! We can hear so many genres from the inventive side of progressive rock and dream pop. What are your musical influences?

My dad plays a bunch of instruments so growing up I had the privilege of being able to experiment with sounds on the instruments around the house. our elementary school had a great music department and I started on clarinet playing in ensembles before I ever really approached rock instruments or considered performing solo. as far as the new album, I think True Widow’s sludgy downtuned sound and Alison Krauss & Robert Plant’s precise vocal harmonies / interplay influenced some of the songs. there may also be more of a radio pop influence than on my prior releases, not just in the Kacey Musgraves cover but also in ‘sun running’ and other places getting more heavily into digital editing and depending less on conventional rock band arrangements.

2. We’re aware that the album started with the Daedalus and Icarus story in mind. Also, in the record, we see some sentimental, fierce, and deep emotional lyrical themes. What is the overarching concept and theme of the record for you ultimately?

I think Icarus functions as like cultural shorthand for ambition resulting in disaster, but I ended up emphathizing more with Daedalus. if you put your heart into any kind of creative enterprise or a relationship with a person and then watch it burn or implode or however it’s destroyed, you’re left to sift the remains and question your actions leading to that outcome. the terms of being a person who creates and hopes for connections are that creations fail or dissolve eventually and connections are severed, and the record is about dealing with that kind of loss. attention to the story typically ends when Icarus drowns but I felt like his dad on the shore after losing his son was a moving image and tried to more fully address that in the lyrics.

3. The album has its share of heavy songs. What are you using for guitars, vsts, effects, etc. Also more generally this record has been in the making for long and what has been the recording process like?

the guitar tuned down to B standard (‘inquisitors’ ‘premeditated,’ other places) is a weird Recco single coil from I assume the 1960s; the guitar tuned down to A standard on ‘I’m not free without you’ is a Schecter Hellcat vi with mini humbuckers. I recorded guitars in my parents’ basement in the suburbs to avoid radio noise and I bi-amped between a Fender Vibrolux 2×10″ and an Ampeg Gemini II 1X15″ to get a wider spectrum of sounds from the mixed speaker sizes. generally the effects chain was Maxon Phaser -> Xotic compressor -> blues driver clone -> Falcon amp emulator -> Empress super delay. I used a Yamaha FX500 and an Intersound IVP too. ” lose in the dark” and ” love eternal” are unusual in that they feature drum tracks left from sessions in Cincinnati in 2018, but I didn’t write other instrumental parts for them until 2021. the majority of the songs I demoed in my garage in Manayunk in late 2020 and then re-recorded drums at Retro City Studios in early 2021 (minus ‘Sun Running’– those demo garage drums made it onto the final release). instrumental recording was basically finished by spring 2021 but I got stuck on vocal melodies and lyrics for a while, and ended up writing and recording nearly all of those in a week or so in November 2021. on my prior releases too I tend to have at least one or two pieces that didn’t fit prior albums that I eventually incorporate so kind of typical I had some holdovers from old sessions.

4. The guitars, drums on the record sound amazing! Especially the rhythm section with polyrhythms and odd time signatues used very musically in context. What has been your journey as an instrumentalist being able to translate your sonic vision with musicianship?

thanks! I feel like learning covers of other artists’ songs and playing in multiple bands with different writers are both important parts of my muisicianship. trying to be versatile enough to do justice to other songs also builds skills that help me flesh out my own songs, I think.

5. From the recording to the final mixed and mastered record with Steve Wethington and Joshua Hayes, what has been the process of making the tracks sound as you intended them to?

Steve and I have played together in the Cincinnati band Disaster Class for a few years so I think we’re used to communicating ideas about music in a way that made the mix process relatively painless. I don’t completely trust my own mix instincts so I’d prepare my own rough mixes of the songs & then send the individual tracks to Steve and we’d trade mixes and notes a few times until we arrived at a final mix. I think Josh basically nailed the masters on the first try except I accidentally forwarded the wrong mix files for a few of the songs so I had to bug him to redo those last-minute before the Kississippi spring tour started.

6. The final track Butterflies is with Blue. Please tell us more about this collaboration.

Blue & I play in a quartet named Best Bear and we were in Landmine Studios in October 2021 to record a The National cover for a Heavenly Creatures release benefiting House Of Tulip ( https://heavenlycreaturerecords.bandcamp.com/album/sad-songs-for-dirty-covers-a-compilation-of-the-national-covers-for-house-of-tulip ). I’d heard a cover of ‘Butterflies’ that I disliked and I felt like a better cover could exist, and we had time at the end of the session. Blue & I were both familiar with the Kacey song so we were basically able to record it on the fly.

7. What are your future music projects?

I drum and sing backup in Best Bear and our debut album is coming out this year, so keep your eyes out for that. I also play guitar in a quintet named Humilitarian and we go on a writing retreat next month to prepare for that band’s first full-length album too. In addition, I fill in on drums for the Lunar Year & Riverby sometimes so if you’re around Philadelphia definitely check out those bands. I think we may also be expecting the 2nd Disaster Class album in the next year or so as well. 

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Guitarist. I write on music and praxis.

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