Man, I fell on my face for this Bosco & Jorge record Ally in the Sky. Don’t really know how to describe it, except to say that it’s a little bit bluegrass, a little bit modern folk, a little bit math rock and a little bit Terry Riley’s In C. How’s that for helpful? To put it another way, if the now-defunct Don Caballero had spent time on the bluegrass festival circuit or hosting open jams in the parking lot after Leo Kottke concerts, the results might have sounded something like Ally in the Sky. Except it’s not bluegrass at all. Man, this just keeps getting harder and harder.
Of course, I had to find out more. Turns out the two main members of Bosco & Jorge (actually Bill Lowman and Brad Gallagher, somewhat disappointingly) actually met at a Leo Kottke concert in Oklahoma when they were both still in middle school. Don’t you wish you knew more people like that? The world of indie music would be immeasurably richer if more future band members met one another at Leo Kottke concerts or Karl-Heinz Stockhausen performances instead of Strokes shows or whatever.
The Bosco & Jorge chronicles are unclear as to how Lowman and Gallagher eventually met up again in Chicago—or perhaps they remained close throughout those formative teenage years after that first auspicious meeting. The annals of indie rock are replete with weird stories of childhood friends running into each other again as adults and forming bands. Johns Flansburgh and Linnell, for example, of They Might be Giants, met up years after being childhood friends in Nebraska when they just coincidentally happened to move into the same New York City apartment building.
Then again, the history of indie rock has always had its share of brothers—twins, even, either by blood or in spirit—picking up instruments at an early age and creating their own peculiar secret languages that no one else can fully understand. Ally in the Sky is a fairly accessible record for almost anyone, but there’s still something that feels private about it—some secret that even the 11 other contributing musicians on the album are privy to only partially, almost on a need-to-know basis.
Whatever it is, though, it kicks ass. Bosco & Jorge are real colorists in choosing their additional musicians—cellist Fred Lonberg-Holmes (from the Peter Brötzmann Tentet) adds impressionistic smears of moody cello, while Rob Mazurek (Isotope, Chicago Underground Duo) hovers over the burbling acoustic and steel guitars with muted cornet. This is melancholy modern folk as much as indie rock. The way the instruments seem to chatter amongst themselves in little klatches of two and three at a time is reminiscent of Terry Riley’s In C, a landmark in modern composition that doggedly refuses to be heard the same way twice by any two people or even any one person. Ally In the Sky is just a swell record, period. Can’t wait to see how Bosco & Jorge—Lowman and Gallagher, that is—bring it off live.