GARTH KLIPPERT swirls a pair of chopsticks in a bowl of pho as he recounts his musical history, one that includes various projects in San Francisco, New Mexico, and even a Sun Ra-inspired band formed during a two-month stint in New Orleans. All of which leads to this nondescript restaurant in northeast Portland and his new project Old Light, which are set to release their debut long-player The Dirty Future.
Klippert, who's called Portland home for five years now, is the first to admit that he's never been the best self-promoter. "I've always made music by myself, for myself, and for my friends," he says, reaching for a spring roll. In fact, guitarist Charlie Hester should get most of the credit for Old Light's formation. After discovering that Klippert was a musician, he asked for a disc with songs he was working on. Within weeks Hester learned every note, every vocal harmony, and booked their first show in April of last year.
Those ever-present harmonies are the first thing you'll notice on The Dirty Future, bringing to mind the intricate, wall-of-sound vocal delivery of Crosby, Stills & Nash. But Old Light aren't hippie throwbacks. In fact, it's hard to pin down exactly what they're going for here. Sunny California strummers "Cmon" and "Disappear" are met with the bong-water soaked riffs of "Old Man" and "Magnetar" (it should be pointed out that Klippert is an unabashed fan of noteworthy Flower Power stompers Black Sabbath).
The origins of Old Light may actually go back to the day Klippert purchased an autoharp. The instrument appears throughout The Dirty Future, recorded with multiple layers to create a dizzying array of chiming harmonics. For simple pop songs, there's an awful lot going on. Lyrically, too. As Klippert explains it, "Finding harmonic resonance, singing about death with a smile on my face—it's very therapeutic."
You can tell Klippert is—perhaps for the first time—eager to get his music out there, an idea that becomes even more interesting as he cracks open his fortune cookie: "Success will be yours at home and in business in the next month."