Dream Weather Its Electric Song, the second LP from Half Shadow takes the most enigmatic aspects of the project—the ever-evolving songwriting apparatus of Portland’s Jesse Carsten—and uses them to create an immersive world in which to bathe. Like an esoteric dream journal expanded into the reaches of the sonic, Dream Weather invokes a lunar sphere in which all things hum with electricity, and the air is alive with sound and speech. Blooming within a landscape of midnight-blue rock, Half Shadow’s sound palette spills over with liquid basslines, polyrhythmic hand drums, and crystalline vocal harmonies, composing a complete cosmos. At times raw, minimal, or softly psychedelic, the record resonates as a dream swelling into daylight vision, wrapping listeners in dark, sparkling hues and mossy undergrowth.
Recorded over the course of a year in two different rooms of Carsten’s home—a spare, wooden meditation room and a small, shared art studio piled with scrawled notes, hand drums and cymbals—Dream Weather Its Electric Song harbors the quiet, earthy reverbs of home and the dense echoes of the environment surrounding it. Actively blending the phenomenal and the personal, these songs weave a dreamscape of body and weather. Singing into the approach of a storm on one of the album’s two title tracks, Carsten intones “Can you feel it, in the blood? Charges pulsing, rearranging ions / Am I dreaming your electric song? / My electric body hums along.” Dream Weather solicits this kind of reciprocal psychic experience in which there is no separation between dreamer and dream, self and other, mind and macrocosm.
Half Shadow has always played in the space of the mysterious but with Dream Weather Carsten finally steps into the masterful position of melding the imperceptible with the accessible, cloaking the unseen in catchy art-music. Half Shadow’s songs linger in the zone between waking and sleep, treading a personal path of piscean vision. “I’m teeming with luminescence / and silken rhythm sighs / when I’m waking in the morning / from the dream I drank last night.” These lyrics urge an embrace of the undiscovered spaces of the human psyche, the untrod places, brimming with unexpected treasure. Dream Weather Its Electric Song stages a powerful sonic coup—listeners may simply think they’re having a taste of the new Half Shadow record but unconsciously they’ve been ushered into a real, living dream. They may even find that it’s their own.
Praise for “Dream Weather”:
“Long one of Portland’s best kept secrets, Half Shadow makes dream narratives into softly psychedelic minimalist dark-folk anthems. The long-running project of Jesse Carsten, Dream Weather Its Electric Song is a carefully thought-out work (dare we say masterpiece?) of poetic devotionals to the natural world, the subconscious, other realms.” Antiquated Future
“Dream Weather Its Electric Song,” offers a unified, compelling, and fully realized vision of a poet exploring his own new, windswept landscape, blending realism with a lyrical, cosmic-language experimentation. Carsten brings an animistic, tactile quality to his songs, woven throughout drawing from dreams to celestial visions, blending spiritual and physical modes of perception. Lyrics slip between being sung to being spoken, dissolving definitions of form and meaning.”
Goat Palace Zine
“It is refreshing to hear this concentrated thoughtfulness and tenderness in a stark, folk package.” Tome To The Weather Machine
“Carsten strives to find meaning in the mysteries of the natural world and the subconscious mind across the eleven songs of the record... deconstructing familiar songwriting styles, bringing the logical mind into alternate pathways of operating.” Queen City Sounds
“The album feels as much like poetry as it does music, with the lyrics taking center stage. While the words have an undeniable hippie aesthetic throughout, Half Shadow isn’t talking about crystal energy or dreamcatchers, but rather a universal wisdom.” Slow Breathing Circuit
Half Shadow is the ever-evolving song-writing and performance project of Portland’s Jesse Carsten. Inspired by the intimate, DIY ethos of songwriters like Diane Cluck and Mount Eerie, Carsten began releasing CD-R’s and homemade tapes of his music as Half Shadow in 2013. Incorporating spoken word, dream recitation, q & a sessions as well as other performative aspects to his shows, Carsten became known as an enigmatic and moving local performer. The Portland Mercury has called Half Shadow’s shows, “invariably powerful, full of wonder, and unlike anything else.” Yet Half Shadow’s songs remain humble – a blend of bluesy minimalism and poetic dream storytelling. Key to Carsten’s approach to song are the mythic, and the psychic – creating space for the unconscious aspects of life to appear and alter consciousness. Listeners are ushered into a world of earthy mysticism, synchronicities, heart felt trips down ferny paths of mind, and percolating piscean visions. Having been compared to artists as sonically diverse as Karl Blau, Brigitte Fontaine, The Dead Science’s Sam Mikens, Jonathan Richman, and Portland’s own Marisa Anderson, Half Shadow’s songs range in scope: from abstract finger picked poems to heart-tugged acapella treaties and repetitive art rock incantations. Carsten aims to reach audiences and inspire listeners while embracing experimentalism, creating music that transcends and transforms the ordinary.
Half Shadow’s first EP “5 New Songs of Light” was released by way of Portland’s legendary tape label Eggy Records in 2013. Containing several of Carsten’s best-loved songs, “Safety” and “Spectral Flower Meditation” the EP quickly travelled, finding fans internationally. A string of tours followed, sharing bills with Porches, Frankie Cosmos, Mega Bog, Black Belt Eagle Scout, the Ghost Ease and others, after which Carsten’s first full length LP “Wind Water Passion Daughter” was released in 2015. Carsten returned in 2019 with Half Shadow’s strongest album to date: “Dream Weather Its Electric Song” released via their own Illusion Florist imprint. An incantatory record of midnight blue folk songs, alchemical rock and roll, and oceanic spoken word, “Dream Weather” resonates as a dream swelling into daylight vision, wrapping listeners in dark, sparkling hues and mossy undergrowth. The record has been called, by Antiquated Future, “a carefully thought-out work (dare we say masterpiece?) of poetic devotionals to the natural world, the subconscious, other realms,” and Tome to the Weather Machine has remarked that “it is refreshing to hear this concentrated thoughtfulness and tenderness in a stark folk package.” For Queen City Sounds, “Dream Weather” deconstructs “familiar songwriting styles, bringing the logical mind into alternate pathways of operating,” while Slow Breathing Circuit has championed the record as a poetic exploration, submitting that Dream Weather feels “as much like poetry as it does music, with the lyrics taking center stage.” Already in process on the third Half Shadow LP slated for a late 2020 release, Carsten intends to spread Half Shadow’s transformative music indefinitely, in this cosmos and beyond.