top of page

Another Life
by Daniel Kleederman





"I need to learn the meaning of work."

This is the enormous, earnest wondering that opens Another Life, the debut full-length record from Bartees Strange guitarist, Daniel Kleederman. This gentle introduction of opener "A Knock At The Door" begins with chiming bell tones, watery guitars, and Kleederman’s soft vocals before shifting into a gorgeous R&B groove, which continues to unfurl and bloom into rich new soundscapes. It’s expansive and kaleidoscopic, an alt-prog-indie-rock saga. This sets the stage for an 11-track exploration of grieving, losing, and coming to terms with the relentlessly bizarre passage of time. This is sometimes gentle and precise, soft and patient; at other moments, it is crashing and thunderous; at others still, it is red-hot with groove, passion, and joy. Kleederman comes from the school of 20th century blues players who had their own distinct 'guitar-voice,' and here, Kleederman shares his own: a breathtakingly dynamic, sensitive, and almost otherworldly control of his instrument and the compositions it creates. These tug on strings from indie and classic rock, folk, pop, Americana, prog, psychedelic, experimental, jazz, blues, every and anything in the great British and American songbooks. "I’m an optimist by nature, drawn to look at loss, death, and difficulties close to home, straight in the eye" says Kleederman. "Songwriting is a venue for me to square up with myself in the most tender places of life. My music - to my ear, at least - seems to take on a number of different tones: from tongue-in-cheek, playful narratives, to dramatic, moody spaces, to tender, lullaby-like ballads. But I think the thing in common throughout is that I’m making space for grief and faith at the same time." Kleederman has spent years backing other bands, most recently and notably as lead guitarist and musical director for indie rock powder keg Bartees Strange, who heard Kleederman when they played on the same bill and felt called to have the guitarist’s expressive musical voice in his band. Like Strange, Kleederman’s solo work is hard to easily pin down, challenging a world often bogged down by genre specifications. And in Kleederman's case, there seems to be a soft request underneath the various styles - a request for time and trust in a world dominated by immediacy. "I do feel compelled to slow the pace down and suggest a bit of a time-change," says Kleederman. Kleederman recorded with producer and longtime friend Chris Connors (Co-Producer on Strange's Farm to Table), working with him each Wednesday for at least a year. Week to week, Connors often reined in Kleederman’s tendency to overanalyze his own work, keeping the project moving towards the finish line, while also creatively contributing across a multitude of instruments. Along with the expressive drumming of longtime bandmate, Alex Goldberg, the LP acheives the kind of tight, yet loose-limbed feel that can only come with a chemistry built by many years. There are short, one minute exercises in quiet and chaos like "I Know This Is Not The Place To Go In," and sprawling indie-prog epics like "Compromised Positions," which darts between moods, tempos, and instrumentations. "She’ll Be Pt. 1" and chaser "She’ll Be Pt. 2" flirt with Beatles-meets-Radiohead arrangements that sway at first then lurch into a psychedelic breakdown midway through the latter, complete with extraterrestrial solos. This psychedelia crops up often, but in a way that feels natural and not necessarily unusual, just obscured. "You don’t have to go that far or deep to get trippy," says Kleederman. "It’s actually right here in the trees, and the fact that we disintegrate into the ground when we die. I find life to have naturally trippy elements and I want to express those elements." Or, put another way: "This is me addressing the mindfuck of loss, change, and falling apart."  "I’ll Be" is intricate even as it floats on blues-folk strumming and sleepy drums, and the sub-30 second folk harmonies of "Don’t Mind Waiting (To Die)" give way to the stunning psych-classic-rock of "They’ll Be," which explodes with synths, full band, and a harmonized chorus of voices like a hit of some holy drug. "Another Life" follows and broods in cavernous darkness before a dramatic outro. "Answers" closes things with folk finger-picking that heats to a slow-burn, then a thrashing, towering climax over which Kleederman first whispers, then cries, "You’ve got all the right answers, boy!" Like some cosmic, cryptic answer to that initial, wondering offer.



bottom of page