Listening to the album, you understand their conception of the word “jam” is far from its most prevalent association with the Widespread Panics of the world. Instead, they run with the idea of playing off a riff or figure, exploring its possibilities and limitations before whittling away the superfluous aspects to create a well-composed song that allows for minimal improvisation. At times the music is cold and brittle, at others warm and pretty; in their most inspired moments, they marry the two. At their loudest, most obvious “rock” moments, they flirt with crescendo-rock, but are content to work with repetitive patterns, denying the build-and-release that has become fairly common in instrumental bands following in the wake of Mogwai or Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
This sound is perhaps most striking on the 13-minute “Spooks”/”Meeho” suite, as Murrin’s mournful, warped guitar snakes through a metronomic steel-on-steel beat to create the album’s most outright beautiful section. The ordinary tight structure of the band is temporarily abandoned as Murrin opens up with an extended improv.
Though instrumental, there is a definite narrative feel to Bright Shuttle’s music, an arc to the rhythms and melodies that have a beginning, middle, and end. Listening to Cold Nice Gold while driving around downtown Knoxville and its environs, it plays like a soundtrack to the post-industrial, neo-gothic Southern city, populated by burned out, abandoned warehouses, with a view of the mountains and suggestion of wilderness around every other corner. This idea is aided by the song titles, which carry an air of menace and anxiety about them: “Outer Dark,” “Spooks,” “When It Gets Here,” “Taking Up His Hammer,” “Caves.” When assigning titles, the band admits to borrowing from Knoxville’s favorite ex-pat literary son, Cormac McCarthy, and Murrin took the band’s name from a passage that struck him in McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men. (Eric Dawson)