Date Palms revolves around the core duo of Gregg Kowalsky (keyboards, electronics) and Marielle Jakobsons (violin, flute, electronics). They employ traditional rock instrumentation to create music informed by Indian classical music, country, minimalism, and spiritual jazz, arriving at a style that is wholly their own. On their third album, The Dusted Sessions, the duo expanded the line-up to include Ben Bracken on electric bass, Michael Elrod on tanpura, and Noah Philips on electric guitar (a first for the band). Kowalsky and Jakobsons are both accomplished solo musicians in their own right: Kowalsky has released ambient albums on Kranky as well as a collaborative release with Josef Van Wissem on Amish, and Jakobsons has released music on the Digitalis and Students of Decay labels. Date Palms uses the sound an imagery of the dustbowl and the American West to express something truly cosmic and unique within the already highly individualistic Bay Area underground.
Inspired by a sojourn to the Yuba River, “Yuba Source” opens The Dusted Sessions like sunrise over the desert. The soft tones of Kowalsky’s Rhodes blend seamlessly with the rhythmic drones of Elrod’s tanpura while Jakobsons’ yearning violin strokes the heavens. The influence of Henry Flynt can be heard in the blown out sound of the amplified violin. As the ideas and spirit of the Yuba River are recalled and reprised throughout the first side, the band inverts the themes of the opener as melancholic and then reflective. “Yuba Reprise” ends with a sense of peace and tranquility, an ending without a goodbye.
The second side of The Dusted Sessions presents a darker vision, heavier in tone and mood. “Dusted Down,” was inspired by the Eureka Dunes, where the Kowalsky and Jakobsons watched dust devils form and slowly traverse the sands. The counterpoint formed by violin and bass mirrors that steady, slow roll of wind across the desert. The final track, “Exodus Due West,” is a hyper-minimal improvised piece consisting of flute, tanpura, and bass, with touches of Semblance analog synthesizer. It offers a feeling of departure and arrival suspended, and The Dusted Sessions fades like twilight cooling expansive stretches of dry wilderness.
The Dusted Sessions was recorded by Phil Manley at LCR in San Francisco, including a session during the annular solar eclipse of May 21st, 2012. The group will be performing throughout the US and Europe as a quintet.