New York singer and guitarist Dave Shuford has always had to manage a split musical personality. In the past, he did that by playing in different bands. D. Charles Speer and the Helix scratched the Southern, rootsy songwriter itch while the No-Neck Blues Band (early on) and Rhyton (later on) allowed him to experiment, improvise and mess with Greek folk sounds in an instrumental format.

New York singer and guitarist Dave Shuford has always had to manage a split musical personality. In the past, he did that by playing in different bands. D. Charles Speer and the Helix scratched the Southern, rootsy songwriter itch while the No-Neck Blues Band (early on) and Rhyton (later on) allowed him to experiment, improvise and mess with Greek folk sounds in an instrumental format.

Then he had a kid. Life and family obligations, not to mention coordinating schedules for two sets of bandmates, made it harder and harder to maintain two bands simultaneously. So Shuford decided to set aside the Helix and concentrate on Rhyton, which will visit the Tree Bar on Friday with Moviola. Despite the more experimental sounds Rhyton dabbles in (or perhaps because of them), the band did better financially than D. Charles Speer and the Helix.

"Rhyton, for whatever reason, has better sales overall for the expenditure, so we actually get into the black, whereas Speer is a money-losing operation," Shuford said recently by phone. "I just thought, well, it's better for the label, and really, I've got a kid. I can't be dumping thousands of dollars a year into the group that doesn't break even."

But when Shuford got together with bassist Jimy SeiTang (Psychic Ills) and drummer Rob Smith (Pigeons) to write, improvise and record instrumental music as Rhyton, his bandmates encouraged him to sing and bring in the type of material he usually saved for his other band. So on new album Redshift, Shuford decided to incorporate both parts of his musical personality.

"I only have time for one outlet," he said, "and I still have interest for some stuff that's more roots-based, but also the instrumental exploration. I'll just try to do it all in this one band."

Redshift's title track is the perfect distillation of that split personality. Shuford begins the nine-minute track with a Southern boogie feel as he uses astronomy to explore ideas of perception and distortion. Redshift, Shuford said, is a term that "has to do with the distortion you get when you look into the furthest reaches of the universe, which are also simultaneously the oldest objects of the universe. The distortions of perceptions that occur are what's most interesting to me."

"Fading light of 10 billion years ago / entropy dissolves all form here below," Shuford sings on the chorus, and then, around the six-minute mark, the acoustic instruments and composed sections begin fading out as unpredictable, synthesizer noises invade the song. "I had this concept of leaving the terrestrial area, and we're going off into this star sound - blasting off into deep space," Shuford said. "It's mainly two synthesizers plugged into each other. The human sound is wiped out."

The rest of Redshift crests and falls as it flows from experimental to composed pieces, but the album's most surprising inclusion is a cover of Joe Walsh's "Turn to Stone." Shuford became obsessed with the song by the former James Gang and Eagles singer/guitarist.

"I ran into this crazy live [video], an ABC special from 1973 where [Walsh] is playing "Turn to Stone," Shuford said. "He's wearing this huge belt buckle with these massive silver medallions all over the belt. He looks totally ridiculous. He's completely fried, and he's got the ultimate absurd guitar face, but it was incredibly compelling."

Shuford modeled Rhyton's version of the song after that live version, complete with extended guitar solo and ultra-funky keyboard/bass groove. "It's this ultimate enthusiasm and losing yourself in music and performance that's very appealing to me," Shuford said. "Any type of music you play, you wanna have that ecstatic thing."

@joeloliphint