HELVETIA – besides being the female national symbol of the Swiss, we’ll leave that aside for now, is the latest musical doings of Jason Albertini, otherwise known to your American alt.rock-lovin’ ears as precisely 33% of San Jose’s Duster; and time spent wisely as bassist for the glorious Built to Spill for six years from 2012 to 2018.
He’s got a new record out about six weeks from now on Joyful Noise, entitled Essential Aliens, on which particular trip he’s joined aboard by former Built to Spill fellow crew member Steve Gere; and Samantha Stidham, too.
When Duster came off that years and years-long hiatus in 2019, the creative floodgates opened; and as well as recording new material for that band, Jason also found himself writing what would become Helvetia’s ninth album, This Devastating Map, last August. He had the groove on.
Then … c’mon you know, you were there too. It begins with pandem-. Abruptly confined, he focused on home-schooling his daughter and setting himself the task of putting together a song a day; another album took shape in the basement.
That album, Essential Aliens, takes the Helvetia sound and simplifies it. It’s stripped back, occasionally raggedy, and all the more resonant for it. Cheap acoustics overload the four-track, drums shuffle, electric guitars teeter on the tuner’s red bar. Short, sweet tunes for y’all.
Helvetia have just dropped a second single from the record, “Rocks on the Ramps” – watch the video for that below. The drums shuffle, properly shuffle, with an intimacy, while Jason part-sings, part-whispers a lovely lo-fi tale.
He says: “I’ve been kind of a headcase this last year. Like most people probably. With the isolation and monotony of being at home all the time. A helpless dread.
“I tried to capture this feeling of going a bit mad, literally and figuratively. I’m dressed up as a ghost because that’s how I felt.” (Aaah! So that’s why!).
“Rocks On The Ramp” follows last month’s straight-down-the-line, necessarily noisy “New Mess” in sidling up to your door in an untucked shirt and into your affections.
Helvetia’s Essential Aliens will be released by Joyful Noise digitally, on yellow and white clear splatter vinyl, and on ‘ectoplasm clear’ vinyl on June 25th; you can place your order here.