Thor & Friends Credit: Conor Q Walker

Until Swans embarked on their current tour—promised to be their last, at least for this iteration of the band—they’d gotten some of their crushing power from drummer Thor Harris, a rhythm machine of awesome magnitude. Last year he stepped away from the group after five grueling years of touring, and he’s now focusing on his own music, which delivers a much different sound. Last month he dropped the debut full-length from his new project Thor & Friends on LM Dupli-cation, the label run by A Hawk and a Hacksaw‘s Jeremy Barnes and Heather Trost, both of whom appear on the record. Deerhoof guitarist John Dieterich also contributed to the album, which was recorded earlier this year in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The core of the ensemble is Harris, Sarah “Goat” Gautier, and Peggy Ghorbani, all of whom primarily play tuned percussion—marimbas, vibraphones, xylophones—to create a warm, soothing sound that’s clearly the work of people who adore Steve Reich. But Thor & Friends equally obviously love pop melody—the music has a kind of homespun vibe in the way it suffuses the hypnotic, interlocking tuned percussion with lovely wordless vocals and swells of texture and countermelody on electric guitars, violin, keyboards, and even Harris’s clarinet. The group makes its local debut Wednesday evening at SPACE in Evanston. Harris will play drums with coheadliner Adam Torres, who’ll join in on guitar during the drummer’s set (along with a couple members of his band on violin, bass, and Wurlitzer).

Below you can hear the new album’s beautiful opening track, “White Sands.”

Today’s playlist:

Danish Quartet, Sofia Gubaidulina: String Quartets 1-3/String Trio (CPO)
Shorty Rogers & His Giants, Martians Come Back!/Way Up There (Collectables/Atlantic)
Dave Heumann, Here in the Deep (Thrill Jockey)
Beat Furrer, Beat Furrer (Musiques Suisses)
Irene Schweizer & Jürg Wickihalder, Spring (Intakt)