Built to Spill’s first album release in five years, Untethered Moon, features a couple of new bandmembers; since the group’s previous release, There Is No Enemy, Steve Gere has taken over drum duties, and Jason Albertini is the new-ish bass player. However, Moon gets to the essence of what has always been the band’s brutal-meets-beautiful sound. Heavy drum hits and tough—often effected or distorted—guitar sounds stand almost in contrast to frontman Doug Martsch’s multitracked, gentle vocal.
The band made a very purposeful decision to record this album live, to capture, as engineer/producer Sam Coomes says, “the band playing like the band.”
“They chose deliberate self-imposed limitations,” adds Coomes, who recorded the band to an Otari machine at Jackpot Recording, Portland, Ore. “They decided to track to analog, 16-track. It was the best way to focus on just the band playing. It helps that Jackpot is such a comfortable place and so well-equipped.”
Coomes has known Martsch for a couple of decades, and he humbly jokes that because the approach was so straightforward, and Martsch so seasoned, “There’s really no production involved. That vocal approach is all Doug, singing into an SM7 with maybe a little compression. That’s his voice—his style.”