Desertion Trio Credit: Katie Rey

Philadelphia guitarist Nick Millevoi juggles disparate approaches to music, including aggressive prog rock in Many Arms and post-Television-style melodicism in Solar Motel Band (where he plays foil to Chris Forsyth), but the element that usually holds them together is that his sounds conjure emotions stoked by ephemeral sorts of nostalgia. He’s as much a jazz musician as he is a rock player, and though he’s dug into both traditions he’s definitely found his sweet spot leading the instrumental Desertion Trio with bassist Ben Rosen and drummer Kevin Shea (Talibam, Mostly Other People Do the Killing). Together they forge a soothing hybrid of post-Crazy Horse grind, Ennio Morricone spaghetti-western ambience, and atmosphere-drenched exotica. As with the trio’s 2016 self-titled debut full-length, the recently released second album Midtown Tilt (Shhpuma) features the dominant presence of organist Jamie Saft, whose sizzling licks and vibrato-heavy lines accentuate the band’s pronounced humidity and bring arresting melodic interplay to Millevoi’s extended, reverb-soaked solos. The new record was inspired by memories of the Jersey Shore resort town Wildwood—particularly the architecture of its 50s-era motels. As Millevoi recently told Shawn Brady of the Philadelphia Inquirer, “It’s a unique place, and so much of it is preserved intact. That idea of Wildwood being a time capsule relates to my feeling of music, that these tunes are frozen in time. There’s a personal nostalgia, but then there’s a nostalgia for a place that is nostalgic.” The threads Desertion Trio weaves together on the new record evoke images of the past that will surely be unique depending on the listener’s personal experience. But the band’s tunefulness and delicate touch—even during its most punishing passages—have a universal profundity that I’ve been unable to resist. The trio is touring without Saft.   v