Douglas McCombs
Credit: Mike Boyd

If you’ve paid even the slightest bit of attention to Chicago music over the past, say, 35 years, you’ve surely heard Douglas McCombs. He’s held down the low end for indie-rock legends Eleventh Dream Day since the mid-80s, acted as the heart and soul of postrock pioneers Tortoise since their founding in 1990, and helmed the shape-shifting Brokeback since 1997. McCombs’s playing is rock-solid, sensible, and melodic, and while he’s best known as a bassist, on his first-ever solo LP, the brand-new VMAK<KOMBZ<<<DUGLAS<<6NDR7<<<, he applies his singular style mostly to acoustic and electric guitar explorations. With elements of minimal ambience, Ennio Morricone-influenced twang, and his own signature Laughing Stock-flavored postrock bliss, McCombs dives into all sides of his musical self on the record’s three ruminative tracks—some expected, some new and surprising. The album’s side-length closer, “To Whose Falls Shallows,” layers ambient guitar and dreamy, rhythmic plucking to create something warm, heady, and transcendent. McCombs’s track record all but ensured that VMAK<KOMBZ<<<DUGLAS<<6NDR7<<< would be an instant classic of spaced-out perfection; if anything, it’ll make you wonder why it took so long to get a Douglas McCombs solo album out into the world.

Douglas McCombs’s VMAK<KOMBZ<<<DUGLAS<<6NDR7<<< is available through Thrill Jockey.