New Orleans begins to pad out its fall concert calendar this week, opening with one of the year’s biggest tickets, a double header from Beyonce and Jay Z inside the Superdome Thursday on a massive, carefully engineered tour following the celebratory bombast of their surprise June album Everything Is Love. That same night in the relatively intimate Gasa Gasa, guitarist Ryley Walker is their omega, an unpredictable, comic shapeshifter whose trips through pseudo-psychedelic folk and free-form abstractions lull audiences into a different kind of catatonia.
With May’s Deafman Glance, Walker slows his universe into a meditative crawl, loosely sewing together a tapestry of ambient passages that play like warped Van Morrison records, pulling at the threads of his pastoral folk compositions on albums like 2015 breakthrough Primrose Green, at home among albums from Nick Drake, John Fahey and John Martyn, and unraveling an elegant, deconstructed jazz.
Deafman Glance picks up from Walker’s 2016’s Golden Sings That Have Been Sung, a sound-altering departure born out of improvised sessions and an ear toward textures from his Chicago home. “Chicago sounds like a train constantly coming towards you but never arriving,” he says on notes from Deafman Glance, the album he says broke his brain. “That’s the sound I hear, all the time, ringing in my ears.” A propulsive “Opposite Middle” bursts from the album’s three-song introduction, an atmospheric suite of chimes, flutes and piano careening alongside Walker’s instinctual, fingerpicked flights into his imagination.
“Maybe I’d say it’s a record for coming up or coming down,” Walker continues. “It’s not an album for the middle of the day. It’s for the beginning or end of it.”
Tickets $10. Health & Beauty opens at 9 p.m. at Gasa Gasa, 4920 Freret St., (504) 338-3567; www.gasagasa.com.