Local indie rocker Will Veeder gets contemplative with 'Exit Interview' 

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Devotees of the Rochester indie rock scene are already familiar with Will Veeder as bassist for the ’90s-born quintet Muler and as the singer-guitarist of its offshoot Hinkley, both of which lasted well into the 2010s and were shepherded by the local label Carbon Records.

Veeder’s new solo album, “Exit Interview,” released by Carbon Records on July 29, draws from some of the multi-instrumentalist’s usual influences — Americana, rock, and post-rock — while veering down a more contemplative track than his previous work.

Veeder plays all the instruments on the album, including guitars, keyboards, and percussion, lending consistency to otherwise divergent moods that shift from track to track. Despite varying tempos and subtle distinctions in the guitar instrumentation, the first three songs of “Exit Interview” are all in the key of C minor and are based on the same droned note. These qualities give the listener the sense that time is suspended, and the music is as unsettling as it is luxurious.

Vocals don’t enter until seven minutes into the album, during the third song “What We Break Is What We Hold,” and even then, they act merely as another instrumental layer, despite the cathartic lyrics: “Dying, you’re gonna rise.”

It all feels like a soundtrack to a psychedlic-fueled spiritual rite of passage, experienced in some remote desert far away from here. There is something deeply meditative about Veeder’s compositions, as if they urge the listener to get lost in their own thoughts.

Even at the album’s most cacophonous, as in “War Drones,” and in the toe-tap-inducing repetition of “Ozona Stockman,” tonality reigns supreme and the sense of melody never breaks down.

The ethereal “Night Ride” leans into more ambient textures. But even Veeder’s peaceful soundscapes sound somewhat ominous, as with the gentle acoustic-guitar fingerpicking against the drome of a sustained low D in “Post Wrestling.”

“Exit Interview” sounds like primitive folk music masquerading as reverb-soaked psychedelia, with rock instruments borrowing from New Age sensibilities and occasionally evoking sitar sounds. Deceptively simple but endlessly listenable, Veeder’s music is mystical without being indecipherable.

As calming as the album often is, an ever-present drone imbues every song — an unwavering sonic metaphor for the inevitability of death, perhaps — and is the glue that holds this sometimes somber, sometimes ecstatic 15-song collection together.

Daniel J. Kushner is CITY’s arts editor. He can be reached at [email protected].
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