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Pittsburgh’s Molly Spear fights a creative rut with an album a week 

The releases vary in style, but are all comfortably rooted in abstract, ambient traditions

Molly Spear was in a creative rut, or so she says.

The Pittsburgh-based composer, pianist and guitarist currently plays in the math-rock trio Sick Bay (plus a number of other groups over the years), and seems to have a handful of ambitious projects on deck at all times. It doesn’t sound much like a rut, but over the past few months, Spear says she started to feel frustrated and disappointed with her creative output. So she challenged herself to write and release an album a week, starting on March 5.

These albums, available for name-your-own-price on her Bandcamp, vary in style, but are all comfortably rooted in abstract, ambient traditions.

HARD SWALLOW kicked off the series, comprised mostly of lo-fi guitar-based loops ranging from minimal post-rock (“33 Days”) to awesomely nightmarish (“Wear Your Fucking Seatbelt”).

Erde, March EP No. 2, is pleasantly hellish as well, this time leaning on distortion and feedback for an alternately mesmerizing and antagonizing listen. If that description gets you jazzed, you should try DRUGS!. That EP from March 29 also straddles the line between harsh and happy, particularly the highlight, “God’s Morning Breath,” which sounds like something Moondog might have written to help his pets sleep.

Spear grew up studying classical piano, guitar and the Flashdance soundtrack before expanding into world music, minimalism and the avant garde. She became drawn to anything that felt dangerous or bizarre. That mix of classical familiarity and penchant for oddity seems to be the guiding principle in her music.

On CORN CHIPS, easily the warmest album in the series, Spear takes Claude DeBussy’s “Claire du Lune” and plays it backward to create “Cerulean Lid.” This can be achieved with a few clicks in most audio programs, but Spear actually played the sheet music backward in real time. This was predictably difficult, but produced an unpredictably unique tune. Treating the piano part with a Panda Bear-ish reverb, Spear’s “version” is dreamy and vaguely haunting, which is a good way to describe her whole deal.

Check out the project at mollyspear.bandcamp.com. She plans to continue the project “as long as [her] creativity holds out.”


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