Imagine an alternate dimension in which Eraserhead‘s Lady in the Radiator is somehow also Skeeter Davis. She records an album, then sends it out into the cosmos to circle her planet’s moon for a bit. While making its ninth orbit, the record is sucked into our universe, where it falls to Earth, light as a feather, rolling along like a haunted tumbleweed until it arrives at Third Man in Detroit.
The name of that enchanted record is Petrichor and the actual human behind its existence is New Mexico-based violinist and singer Heather Trost, who you may know from A Hawk and a Hacksaw, a co-production with her husband Jeremy Barnes (Neutral Milk Hotel), who appears on this album, too.
Have you ever wanted to hear a version of Harry Nilsson’s “Jump Into the Fire” that starts out sounding like a Body/Head track only to resolve into honeyed leftfield pop? How about that awful song James writes in Twin Peaks—but extremely good instead? Trost’s original “Tracks to Nowhere” channels the same wistful sock hop energy, offering pure refractive magic when molded to suit her vision.
Broadcast, Françoise Hardy, Ennio Morricone, Nancy Sinatra with Lee Hazlewood, Bruce Haack, the Beach Boys’ Surf’s Up—Trost channels these influences, but the key is how she also transmutes them, bringing to mind the patient pleasure of watching a cactus grow and Clarice Lispector’s quietly existential, lyrical short stories. She’s primarily an evocative songwriter, and her songs suggest scenes as much as sounds: picture a walk through some midcentury suburbs, alone with one’s thoughts, or perhaps silently clasping hands with someone you love.
The word petrichor feels delightfully alien, though it shouldn’t. Its roots are in classical mythology, constructed from the Greek words “petra” (rock) and “īchōr” (the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods; ethereal fluid). The current definition, which refers to the distinct, earthy scent emitted when rainfall lands on very dry ground, was coined in 1964 by a pair of scientists, those gods of contemporary life drawing on mythic origins and bringing poetry into the lab whether they meant to or not. Tangible, much-needed sweetness after a barren spell. Regular rainfall is godly when the land needs it this badly. This is a soundtrack for the pensive liminality of modern life, music for our hearts as we pursue our dreamiest, strangest impulses.| a gavrilovska