Philly’s Eric Slick might be best known as the drummer for Dr. Dog, but he’s performed in a number of notable projects, including Adrian Belew Trio, Norwegian Arms, and Lithuania, to name a few—and meanwhile he’s been doing his own thing, quietly but prolifically, as a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist. Earlier this month, he released the modestly titled four-track demos vol. 1, a collection of solo work recorded in Philadelphia and Asheville, NC over the span of some nine years.
The collection is full of sparse, lyrically haunting tracks that feel fully idiosyncratic—each one is as musically distinct from the others as it is from any determinate influence, and each poetic in its writing and arrangement. The video for “The Reconcile”, directed by Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, is a work of poetry in itself, a gorgeous montage of ever-shifting black and white footage that makes use of stop-motion collaging. Just Slick’s wavering voice and the acoustic guitar, the song borders on melancholic, with only the constant motion of the video and rhythmic strum of the guitar keeping it from sinking into more overt despair. Cryptic lines like “inside your mind you’ll keep / a place to bury me / old thoughts of misery” are set to recurring images of people and bikes and desert towns weaving quickly in and out of the frame. It comes across as a bit playful and dadaist in its mashing of imagery, but all the while, the sound weighs the images with a somber meaning. And the sound—the timbre of Slick’s voice, the oscillation between complete frenzy and spaces of measured calm—is truly something Slick can claim for his own.