Parentheses are useful tools. They represent a whisper, an interlude in time, or, by the implied aside, they draw attention to space. In Adler Hall’s new album, parentheses do all this and more. (Tourist), the artist’s debut full-length and first full release under that name (he put out an EP, 2013’s Circumambulate, under his given name, John Henry Hoagland), exists in liminal spaces. Surrounded by field recordings from Japan and Brooklyn, where Hoagland lives, the tracks flow from one to the next, building a lush story space out of conversations, ambient noise, and the thoughtful compositions of the artist’s “bedroom orchestra.”
Weaving a coherent thread through (Tourist) is an observational narrator reporting from experience at a slight remove. He talks of struggling “To make conversation / Land in all the places that we’d rather be / Than New York” in the jaunty rock verse on “Half”; he sings, “If I keep my voice down here / You know that I’m a tourist here” in the London cathedrals of the gorgeously meditative “Tourist, Pt. 1”; and he hedges on the synth-pop-infused “Cicada,” “I’ll be here for hours / If you stick around / And make me think I’ll be alright.”
But Adler Hall doesn’t hedge when it comes to writing and production of the album. Calling on his college studies in music theory and composition and the production help of Odd Gift Records’ Kyle Joseph, Adler Hall has crafted a beautiful and polished work. An album about moving through unfamiliar places, (Tourist) instantly welcomes listeners into its own rich space.