Justin Trosper's creative arc is as jagged as it is long. Through the '90s, his band Unwound brought an extraordinary catalog of noisy, desperate music to life. When Trosper returned with Survival Knife in 2014, it was a thoughtful and loud exercise in "regular" rock 'n' roll that was anything but. His music is a study in unconventional rock that, at its edges, makes its own conventions.
With his new band, Nocturnal Habits, Trosper once again reshapes not only his songwriting, but also his instrumentation, dynamic and style into something altogether surprising. For the first time since Unwound's breakup, former bandmate Sara Lund (his "secret weapon") joins, along with Dale Crover (Melvins), Sherry Fraser and Scott Seckington (Two Ton Boa). The band's debut album, New Skin For Old Children, is wild and weird, even by the collective talent's standards, yet it's also immediate. It has all the adventure of Unwound's swan song, Leaves Turn Inside You, but it's also lushly and strangely arranged like Jeremy Enigk's otherworldly Return Of The Frog Queen.
"Good Grief" is the first single, heavy with Trosper and Lund's sharp-edged chemistry, but it's simultaneously softened and stimulated by frenetic piano and Fraser's vocals sung in eerie unison. There's a mystery to Nocturnal Habits unlike anything in Trosper's discography — a lycanthropic transformation that's alluring and dangerous, rolled in Cascadian fog and gnarled at the roots.
"'Good Grief' was the first song idea that made it to the record except for 'Wall Of Early Morning Light,' which was written who knows how long ago," Trosper tells NPR. "I think it's one of my best songs and a good intro to what is to come, hopefully. People are right to think that this record is a natural follow-up to the last Unwound record (Leaves Turn Inside You). ... It's an inside-of-myself record."
New Skin For Old Children comes Oct. 28 on Glacial Pace.