Hayden Pedigo, “Dream Theory Part One” feat. Charles & Merlin Hayward

Amelia Pitcherella

Amarillo, TX guitarist and experimental composer Hayden Pedigo’s range of sensibilities is vast. Drawing from a rich palette of influences including American primitive guitar, drone, and krautrock, Pedigo doesn’t have a prototypical song. While his debut record Seven Years Too Late was a mix of gorgeous acoustic guitar ballads and a few electronic tracks, his sophomore full-length is an expansion on that—one side devoted to acoustic compositions and the other fully to experimentation.

The B-side of Five Steps includes a mix of field recordings and electronics structured with the REM cycle in mind. Pedigo reached out to some of his favorite artists and wound up collaborating with quite a few—including, in “Dream Theory Part One,” Charles Hayward of This Heat and his daughter, Merlin Hayward. The track opens up in a serene wash of sound with Merlin’s bright vocals, then narrows into a sparse but restless field of industrial noises that introduces Hayward’s minor-key croon. It takes a full turn in the final minute, with airy bell sounds and coalescing with Merlin’s vocal thrusts. The rifts in sound that punctuate the piece are unsettling in the best way possible—while the song on the whole still manages to feel totally organic, cinematic in its range. It’s the starkest contrast you could find from the record’s first single, the soft and heartrending acoustic “Stray” featuring Danny Paul Grody. But a taste of both sides reveals Pedigo’s lack of limitations—his ear is already attuned to a whole spectrum of mediums, and he’s only in his early twenties.

Five Steps is due out November 4 on Seattle experimental label Debacle Records.

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