A List of Sightings Guma
When asked to describe Guma, the best that T.J. Masters can come up with is that it’s “a collaborative musical body.” A vague description, but to his credit, how else could you describe putting Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground Quartet, Iron & Wine), Danny Frankel (Fiona Apple, Brian Eno), and Ryan Jewell (Mosses, Ryley Walker)— all three drummers— in a room together for a single track, and then moving on to an entirely different ensemble for the next track? The spirit of this collaborative roulette pervades the upcoming Guma LP, A List of Sightings, out February 18, 2022. Produced by Chris Schlarb (Psychic Temple, BIG EGO), A List of Sightings is a mind-bending half hour that trips through everything from James Gadsen-inspired breakbeat funk, to the lush sounds of 70s-era Brazilian MPB, to Coltrane played in reverse before ending on the Randy Newman-esque “List of Sightings.” Masters hosts a weekly freeform radio show on KOOP 91.7FM in Austin, TX, and his appetite for finding undiscovered or under-appreciated music is reflected in the variety of sonic touchstones in his own music that zip by in all directions yet never feel out of place. All of it is narrated by Masters’s typically wry and sometimes dire train of thought. “As far as the ego comes / I have an ancient one,” he intones on “House Analogue,” the second track on the record and one that bustles with more than a hint of electric-era Miles Davis. “How does it feel to be bound / by the taste of an artist only recently found,” sings vocalist Heather Sommerhauser in a twinkling lead vocal feature on mid-album highlight “Song for a New Painting.” “I find I know too well,” is Masters's dry response. His lyrics flirt endlessly with the idea of time captured and released; time passing and passed; time circular and encircled. During a lunch date with a friend late on the album, he juggles intractable situations and solicits advice; “As far as he can tell, everything fits in the frame.” Taken for the menagerie of sounds, people, animals, places, foods, and visions that it is, A List of Sightings belies that T.J. Masters feels much the same way.