Cincinnati's Comprador expand in size and scope with the release of stunning new double album, 'Downstream'

Band's 19-track release on Chicago's Dark Circles Records is a compellingly adventurous Indie Rock masterwork

click to enlarge Comprador - Photo: Brianna Kelly
Photo: Brianna Kelly
Comprador
This Friday, Comprador, the incredibly dynamic Cincinnati Indie Rock group led by hyper-talented singer/songwriter Charles D’Ardenne, is releasing its sprawling new album, Downstream, via the Chicago label Dark Circles Records. The release contains 19 tracks and, like the music itself, it is presented uniquely — laid out like a “double album” (and divvied up as Side A, Side B, Side C and Side D), Dark Circles is releasing Downstream on two cassettes (it will also be issued digitally).

It’s a distinctive format, certainly, but in this age of shortening attention spans — with many musicians trending toward singles and EP releases — crafting a double album is a statement in itself. Comprador has sculpted an engaging and engrossing piece of art with Downstream, and it’s worth every second of the release’s run time. Ambitious, yes, but this isn’t an overlong album stuffed with filler. Each song is well crafted and shaded with fluctuating tones and colors, and there is so much diversity from track to track, the release never feels weighted down or meandering. Very few double albums in the past 25 years have needed to be double albums, but once you get going with Downstream, you’ll want to keep following the sounds to see where they’ll go next.

Comprador began in 2013 and D’Ardenne has collaborated with a variety of local musicians in the band’s short lifespan. Aaron Collins played drums and provided backing vocals on the 2014 EP Voyeur, but D’Ardenne played everything else in the studio (there was a trio for live shows). It was the same setup for the band’s 2015 debut full-length, Pollinator, though a couple of bassists sat in. D’Ardenne took over all drumming duties on Beheld, an EP released at the start of this year, but Jon Delveaux — along with Corey Waddell, his bandmate in Cincy Dreamgaze group Soften — provided assists, which turned out the be a preview of the current full-band edition of Comprador. With Delveaux playing guitar and Waddell on bass (D’Ardenne now plays drums and sings lead live), the group also includes Soften’s frontperson Brianna Kelly on keys, guitar and vocals. The expanded lineup was a logical development in the context of Downstream’s expansive canvas, allowing for wide-angle depictions of the songs in concert.

D’Ardenne’s talent was evident on those very first Comprador recordings, but his musical curiosity and sense of adventure has helped transform the project into something less linear and more epic in scope. According to a recent interview with Jim Nolan on WVXU’s “Local Exposure” program, after D’Ardenne acquired a piano, he began to write on it more, allowing him to look at songwriting from different perspectives.

Comprador tags itself as a “Psychedelic Rock” band, but there’s so much more going on — if you hear one track on the new album, know that it represents one of many facets of the group. The experimental sensibilities that drive Downstream result in a journey that makes pits stops in heart-swelling, high-ceilinged etherealness (“Dark Neon”), scorching, anthemic U2-meets-Radiohead Post Punk (“Second Rites”), orchestral, piano-driven lushness (Side B’s “Clenched Fists”), bluesy guitar riffage (“Downstream Now”), dreamy Indie/Freak Folk (“Kissoff”) and garage-y (but still rich) Nirvana-esque boot-stomping (“One Reads Our Fates”). Even within an individual track, Comprador’s music is rarely just “one thing” — it’s progressive and experimental, but also magnetically melodic and familiar, as a range of Rock & Roll tropes past and present are deconstructed and reconstructed in unanticipated but rewarding ways.


Downstream is a “Modern Rock” masterwork that deserves to be heard by as many music lovers as possible — not so much for the band’s sake, but for the music world’s benefit. What comes next for the group is a thrilling prospect. If there’s a “next level” up from this creatively, Comprador will be among the stars in no time.

The Downstream cassette will be available Friday night at Comprador’s release party at MOTR Pub (1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, motrpub.com). Fellow local group Lipstick Fiction opens the free show, which begins at 10 p.m.

For more on Comprador, visit facebook.com/compradorohio and comprador.bandcamp.com. Here is the link to the full album on Spotify.


Contact Mike Breen: [email protected]