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Hotel Vast Horizon

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Album Review

Like Bob Dylan, Chris Whitley's music is deeply informed by the blues. But, also like Dylan, it is defined by a weird rhythmic amorphousness. What at first seems like indistinct strumming is soon brought into shape by angular melodies delivered in Whitley's unmistakable voice — deep and seemingly sedated. Chord changes are transparent, falling in odd places and practically unrelated to his strumming. None of this is a bad thing. Whitley's music is powerfully original. On 2001's Rocket House, he employed a virtual orchestra of electronic sounds, which provided a fitting frame for his otherworldly mumble-howl. With Hotel Vast Horizon, Whitley returns to more bare settings. The music is created by Whitley (playing guitar and banjo) with bassist Heiko Schramm and drummer Matthias Macht. And though the instrumentation is traditional, he manages to retain a fundamental strangeness throughout, almost defined by the absence of further arrangement. The results are not easy listening, but they are deeply compelling.

Customer Reviews


Chris Whitley's masterpiece. The greatest blues artist of the past 30 years.


Unique and captivating


His most personal work. Lyrically rich, melodically sparse with exhilarating, unexpected turns and a consistent mood that floats over the whole work like a fog. Sad, desolate and full of longing and regret, like walking alone through deserted city streets on a still winter morning... This is where he showed the world that he really had invented his own sound - his vocal phrasing recalls some of the great jazz singers. The song "Wide Open Return" is simply flawless. Listen for the clicking of his cigarette lighter at the :07 mark in "New Lost World". In fact, this album is a world unto itself.


Born: August 31, 1960 in Houston, TX

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Chris Whitley was a Texas-based singer/songwriter who initially began his career as a bluesy roots rocker, but as his career progressed, he moved deeper into rock & roll and alternative rock. Though Whitley's albums usually received positive reviews, they rarely sold, and his tendency to rework his sound prevented him from developing a sizable cult following among singer/songwriter fans. As a child, Whitley moved frequently through the Southeast, eventually moving with his mother to Mexico when...
Full Bio
Hotel Vast Horizon, Chris Whitley
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Customer Ratings

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