Monday, January 30, 2006

Black To Comm Rückwärts Backwards (Dekorder)

Black To Comm is the solo moniker of Dekorder head honcho Marc Richter. The German Dekorder label is perhaps best known for a Hafler Trio release from a few years back but if there’s any justice in the world the label will also soon be known as the one that has released the music of Black To Comm.

Rückwärts Backwards is an organic floater that’s created from scratchy shellac and vinyl loops interspersed with all sorts of gentle found sounds and blurry ambience. The distant collage-like song fragments (psychedelia, free jazz, folk and more) that often remain in a somewhat remote corner of the soundscapes presented are probably what make the outcome warm and organic, rather than haunting and claustrophobic. That doesn’t prevent things from being quietly disturbing but it manages to be so without ever abandoning that melodic touch and the abstract drone alley chosen for the specific track. The whole album is very dream-like, mystical and fascinating, like being in the middle of a fog bank and loosing your sense of direction but always knowing that you’ll find your way out one way or the other.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Paul Flaherty & Chris Corsano The Beloved Music (Family Vineyard)
Diskaholics Anonymous Trio Weapons... (Smalltown Superjazzz/Dot)

Here are two releases that both find themselves knee-deep in experimental jazz/improv waters but that end up sounding completely different. Legendary saxophonist Paul Flaherty and the relatively young, but powerful percussionist Chris Corsano (among other things noted for his contributions to the latest Six Organs of Admittance album) teams up for a live recording that initially might strike the inattentive as yet another slice of potent, but still retrospective free jazz. But repeated listens will reveal something bigger, something that goes way beyond another tribute to what once was. Flaherty's Ayler-inspired saxophone explosions and Corsano's omni-directional, colorful drum patterns create a spiritual flow and intensity that manages to be emotional and rock at the same time. The involved often abandon the call and response technique for something I guess you could refer to as simultaneity of sound. Since these guys know each other very well by now this works extremely well and makes the whole thing overflow with the sort of emotional effect that I'm looking for when it comes to this sort of roaring improv.

Diskaholics Anonymous Trio is a super group or sorts, including Thurston Moore, Jim O’Rourke and my sax-playing namesake. I’ve often found myself enjoying the sounds of Mats Gustafsson more in the live setting than on record so when playing this for the third time in a row I started reading the accompanying press note and learned that the album was recorded live at Ystad Teater, Sweden in October 2002. No wonder it’s such a killer release.

What makes it work so successfully is the combination of these guys’ experimental talents. Moore’s shards of feedback, O’Rourke’s brain-splicing electronics and Gustafson’s sax playing style, that seems to come packed with a certain amount of punk rock attitude, all unite in two long-lasting sound storms of the dissonantly beautiful variety. The frantic results are often so incredibly electric that you’re likely to see the wavelengths move right in front of your eyes if you look close enough or simply turn up the volume. The questionably titled Weapons of Ass Destruction is surprisingly excellent but surely not everyone's cup of tea.

The Clear Spots Mansion in the Sky (Deep Water)

When reviewing Mountain Rock, the debut CD-R from the Clear Spots I described the music as raw and ragged, but I also noted that they choose to slow things down in a way that makes the untamed guitars and the general sense of improvisation, the aural chaos and the beds of rustic noise sound surprisingly beautiful. This is even more case on the follow-up which still finds its base in tangles of melting feedback, squealing guitar work and blaring epic noise but at the same time blows all these components apart in every direction.

The Clear Spots’ earthly psych meanderings rely heavily on repetition and distortion, but what really makes this baby take off for the stars are the dynamic features. At times the sounds are filled with the kind of space and vastness that characterizes the wide-open flatlands and in the next everything is distilled down to a narrow tunnel of free-form guitar/drum freakouts. It's amazing how two guitars and some drums can be so incredibly dynamic, going from broken shards of droning noise to meandering guitar passages in no time and back again. Mansion in the Sky sort of works on two levels; you can either bang your head to it or get lost at the crossroads of bliss and transcendental heaviness.

It’s a varied disc, but often we find layers of droning noise atop an impressive almost Krautrock-like rhythmic flow, but there are also some side-trips through more minimal guitar explorations run through a squadron of effect boxes, suggestive of folks like Roy Montgomery. When listening to “Friend of the Pines” one can’t help but to wonder if this track ever would have seen the light of the day if it hasn’t been recorded in a windswept barn overlooking some deserted river valley.

Mansion in the Sky holds the powers of some abandoned settlement and it’s all moulded down to 49 minutes of mind-expanding psych/noise rock perfection. Fans of Juneau, Bardo Pond and the Dead C will want to get their mitts on this as soon as humanly possible.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Loney, Dear Sologne (Dear John/Dotshop)

Swedish Loney, Dear is one of those one-man bands that I have somewhat mixed feelings about. On one hand we get a bunch of slow-moving bedroom numbers that belong to a brand of melancholy-draped folk-pop that besides lyrical angst and frustration is characterized by rustic, shuffling rhythms and lush, intricate melodies that if in the right mood can be quite inspirational but that also represent a sound that doesn’t strike me as very unique in year 2006.

But on the other hand we get the absolutely amazing, catchy lo-fi pop nugget, which is “The City, the Airport.” Its bouncy, multi-layered experimental pop comes flavored with Emil Svanängen’s off-kilter vocals and is pretty much worth the price of admission alone. I believe that particular song will be available as a single soon so start there and proceed with a reasonable amount of caution.

Ethereal Planes Indian Smoke Signals (Twilight Flight Sound)

Ethereal Planes Indian is the solo vehicle of Austinite B.C. Smith, a multi-instrumentalist who also plays with improv unit Iron Kite and has played with the Primordial Undermind. Smoke Signals is the second release under the Ethereal Planes Indian moniker and it’s definitely a step forward from the impressive debut. Fractured ethnic flourishes and improvised patterns of primitive percussion ride slowly along a folk/psychedelia-inspired road through the most rural part of Texas. The gentle psychedelic beauty shines brightly through the trees of this guy’s metaphorical forest and at its best this is approaching dreamlike folk hypnosis in the true essence of the word. The percussive workouts, the restrained meandering acoustic passages as well as the side-trips into roaring psychedelia brings to mind the Australian mymwly collective and some of the artists on the Digitalis label but this is at the same time slightly more blues-tinged and song based. Add to all this ample use of moog, a tasty bedroom-psych atmosphere and the occasional murky vocal contribution and you got yourself a disc that will continue to fascinate long after the first ten listens. Contact the label at brironkite-at-hotmail.com.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Phosphene The Plum, The Orange and the Matchbox (Secret Eye)

When reviewing Phosphene’s Projection album (also on Providence label Secret Eye) I think I described it as ominous electronic soundscapes, tranquil drones, vibrant psychedelia and eerie tone fluctuations that are interspersed with a somewhat traditional song formula and lovely harmonies. Given this background the sound of John Cavanagh’s (aka Phosphene) brand new album initially comes as a bit of a surprise. On top of the gauzy tone structures and oozing electronics we get wheezing reeds and the occasional full-throttle jazz freakout with legendary improv saxophonist Lol Coxhill in the center of attention. This gives the whole thing a very pleasant blend of ear-piercing free jazz, relatively structured melodies and atmospheric abstraction that is really difficult to escape. The most intensely beautiful moments of the album are when background layers of drones and synthetic soundscapes are speckled with absolutely insane sax wailing. Coxhill’s attack and timing during these moments touches what to me is the essence of free jazz – the way it “should” be created. The unplanned beauty and nervous intensity that is present here sounds like an organic dance of sound that continues all the way through the disc’s 39 minutes. The Plum, The Orange and The Matchbox is a weird album, gleefully bent music that teeters on the fringes of experimental music from a lot of different directions.

Miss Massive Snowflake Bender (North Pole Records)

Miss Massive Snowflake is Shane de Leon, well known for his work with the much-heralded Rollerball combo out of Portland, Oregon. Bender is a perplexing 3” CD-R that comes with a nicely packaged full color comic about animals with Tourette’s syndrome, or gender/species bending bunnies. As this description might suggest this release is one of the oddest things I’ve heard/seen all year but this is not just weirdness for the sake of it as it overflows with musical curiosity and charm. We get 10 tracks packed with child and adult vocals, samples, electronic claustrophobia, murky beats, fragmentized acoustic snippets, introspective horn sections, noise, subtle pop elements and the occasional feedback attack that clock in at just over 16 minutes and to tell you the truth this length is probably ideal for this somewhat schizophrenic sound affair. I can’t really say what it is about this disc that makes it work so successfully but I like it a lot and some of you might do the same so feel free to contact the North Pole label at: starbagehands-at-yahoo.com.

Aaron Moore The Accidental (Elsie & Jack Recordings)

Hands raised immediately in a gesture of attention. Aaron Moore (one of the founding members of Volcano the Bear that released a CD on Broken Face Recordings/Digitalis in 2005) is a friend of ours. But does that fact going stop us from digging his solo debut, The Accidental? Hardly, since it displays such a fine set of frosty drones, grainy ambience and blurry soundscapes.

The majority of these epic tracks were initially intended for an aborted collaboration with Oren Ambarchi and although that never happened the gently swaying dream tunnel of expansive tone clusters presented here is minimally beautiful in the same way as Ambarchi’s music. What we’re served with are seven pieces of mesmerizing soundscapes and drone haziness, which comes from bowed and beaten vibraphone, cymbal, chord organ, thumb piano and keyboard, mainly concentrating on one instrument per track. Most of the way this is as graceful as a ripple in fresh water, or as snowfall on a particularly cold January morning but be prepared for a few darker chain reactions along the way.

As a whole The Accidental sounds like being stuck in front of some tone generator that sends out repetitious sound particles that create almost weightless gossamers of sound waves. It’s a serenely employed sonic topography of eroding blocks of droning tones, harmonic meditations, variations of certain colors of sound which all have one primary task, to transport you to a peripheral part of your mind. Highly recommended for fans of meditative bliss and/or headphones enlightenment the world over.

Merz Loveheart (Grönland/Dot)

Conrad Lambert aka Merz has created a quiet, delicate pop album that seems to prefer the shade to the sun drenched front porch. His warm but melancholic melodies are draped in cloths of rich orchestration, including Wurlitzer piano, ukulele, mandolin, Hammond Organ, harmonica, Native American bass drum as well as drum machines, synths and electric and acoustic guitars. Lambert’s grating voice is one of those hit or miss characteristics but personally I just love the way his evocative voice finds a way to work no matter if the specific song focus on folk, pop or electronica. Loveheart is a soft-spoken statement that is beautiful and sonically intelligent, and the kind of record that rewards patient listening.


Monday, January 23, 2006

Belong October Language (Carpark)

The sound of New Orleans-based Belong mostly seems to be stuck in a time machine that lands somewhere in the midst of the crushingly loud and colorfully mind-altering guitar explorations of folks like Spaceman 3 and My Bloody Valentine. Underneath the hurricane of zoned out distortion and guitar echoes, this instrumental duo tears off lovely traces of melodies. In a similar way as their grandfathers they somehow pull off being raucous, furious and ethereal all at the same time. A few tracks in the middle of all this are a bit calmer and to a higher degree depend on almost Fennesz-like digital processing, but if you ask me it’s the sludgy swelling guitar fuzz of tracks like ”I Never Lose. Never Really” and the glorious, rushing white noise of the closing ”The Door Opens the Other Way” that works most successfully.

Not necessarily innovative, but Belong combine their love of dreamy dissonant washes and shimmering distortion with a beautifully fractured perspective into something that’s both unusual and quite melodic across the span of these eight tracks.

Frogtoboggan …Meets the Unpaid Professionals (AntiClock)

The more you learn about something, you realize that you don’t really know anything. Well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration but sometimes it does feel like I’ve heard every single aspect of things droney, but then someone like Washington-based Frogtoboggan comes along and changes all that in the matter of minutes. In the case of this disc on the impressive AntiClock label we get drones coming from the well-hidden angle of experimental chamber music. Stark electronic drones, pre-recorded soundscapes and prepared piano find a comfortable place in the background while Jennifer Van Dyke’s non-lyrical, feather-light, angel-like vocals takes turns with trumpet, flute, rants, clarinet, violin, bass clarinet for the podium position. It’s a strange blend that at its least exciting is interesting and at its best walks the tightrope between folk, classical and ambient with impressive ease.

Nick Grey+Nicholas Davis Les Eaux Territoriales (milk and moon)

Les Eaux Territoriales is the first volume of a series called Unclear Perspectives where each volume will focus on the potential of one or several specific instruments. First out is an individually packaged CD-R that explores the most stretched out and dreamy aspect of the guitar.

We get three tracks that clock in at just over 23 minutes and the unquestionable central piece here is the title track, which builds from gently layered, slightly Roy Montgomery-esque guitars to something a whole lot wider when piano and bass enters the mix. As the minimalistic guitar explorations progress and a swirling cello seeps out of the speaker things get more and more dense and one can’t help but to see visions of approaching thunderheads on the horizon. Patience with this one reveals a complex interweaving of patterns that is as emotional and nostalgic as it’s sonically interesting. Nick Grey and Nicholas Davis are certainly two very capable musicians that I closely will keep my eyes on from now on.


Saturday, January 21, 2006

El Hijo La Piel Del Oso (Acuarela)
LD & New Criticism Tragic Realism (Acuarela)
Windsor for the Derby Confianza / Visiones (Acuarela)

Spanish Acuarela is one of those labels that I truly respect but whose releases I not end up listening to as much as I probably should. I am not quite sure what that means but I do know that El Hijo, the new moniker of Migala front man Abel Hernández, is well worth my attention. Like Migala we get a bunch of slow moody songs draped in a gorgeously lush instrumentation, but where the band tends to fill it all with miserablism and limitless drunken sorrow El Hijo is decidedly more varied and to a certain extent a bit more pop.

LD Brethol is already well known for his collaborations on the Magnetic Fields’ 69 Love Songs as well as for his work with Flare and The Three Terrors. His most recent goth-pop project is LD & the New Criticism whose debut album proves to be a very worthwhile side route into the darkest corner of all things pop. The gloom mainly comes from the somewhat baroque instrumentation and LD’s lyrics, which truly is one of a kind. What I find amazing with this is that the pop sensibilities get through it all no matter what LD chooses to sing about. It’s almost like you have to remind yourself that you shouldn’t really smile the way you do when listening to Tragic Realism. But it’s actually in the middle of this odd blend of up-beat and cheerful country/folk-tinged melodies and lyrical dreariness that this disc really gets going. Very nice.

Windsor for the Derby out of Austin, TX has always been sorely underrated, and while this CD EP not might be on par with their finest outings it’s still a worthy continuation to what has been. As a matter of fact this disc strikes me as one that tries to display most of the band’s different sides. We get angular arpeggios tied down to a simple drum machine’s pattern, gently flowing dual guitars, Disco Inferno-esque pop minimalism and the closing ”No Tekno w/ Drums” offers shards of feedback. All in all this might be a bit too much to handle in 25 minutes’ time but it’s worth the price of admission alone for the drowsy pop melancholia of ”Visiones”.

Ray Off Ghost Wolf of Thunder Mountain (United Fairy Moons)

This is another corker from the label behind the Three Forks release reviewed below. Ray Off is lead by James Currin, who also runs the United Fairy Moons label, and what he’s in charge of here is a whole lot more structured and melodic than the Three Forks experience. Currin’s intimate guitar playing does from time to time recall Six Organs of Admittance and the willingness to blend soft, dense clouds of psychedelic drone primitivism with haunting folk structures is also something that he has in common with Mr. Chasny. The ample use of electronics and the general sense of glacial improv are two of the reasons why Ray Off despite the similarities still has a distinct voice of their own.

In the midst of the uncompromising attitude and musical curiosity there’s a strong love for the simple: for the repeated acoustic guitar pattern, for the minimal drone, for the old guitar, for that postcard that never got sent, for nightly walks through fog-clad urban landscapes and for long-lasting front-porch tales. On Ghost Wolf of Thunder Mountain Ray Off lets all these somewhat nostalgic and solemn qualities seep through a filter of tranquil experimentalism and the result are never anything less than spellbinding. If you have yet to explore the world of the United Fairy Moons label you’ll have a lot to look forward to.

Three Forks Seven Layer Ape (United Fairy Moons)

The endless flood of fascinating music originating from New Zealand never seems to come to an end. Three Forks is a relatively new name to me, but as far as I am concerned they’re well worth being placed right next to the impressive roster of bands on the Metonymic label (Flies Inside the Sun, Rain, Sleep, Sandoz lab Technicians to mention a few) which makes sense given the fact that everyone involved in one way or the other is connected to this specific scene. If I am correctly informed the band, made up by James Currin, Tim Cornelius and Donald McPherson, is no longer which is a shame given the quality of the recordings present here. Acoustic folk improvisations meander across a wide plane made up by clusters of bubbling improv, disorienting noise, tribal free folk, free jazz percussion and corrosive string massage. Like a lot of the sounds I enjoy the most this is music that involves a series of intensities, arranged in such a way that there is a feeling of traveling through a landscape. Despite its fringe characteristics there's a sense of beauty and isolation that is much more seducing than it is perplexing, like following a hidden trail through a region draped in dramatic natural beauty. Seven Layer Ape is a slice of timeless improv that comes wrapped in a hand screened and hand painted cardboard package. A visual and aural masterpiece that comes highly recommended to every avid Broken Face reader.

Larkin Grimm Harpoon (Secret Eye)

Larkin Grimm is included in the Terrastock 6 line-up so if you value that festival as highly as I do, that’s probably all you need to know. Grimm is a Providence, RI-based (born in a Memphis, TN commune and grew up in Dahlonega, Georgia in the foothills of the Appalachians with a family of singers and fiddlers) musician that strikes me as one of the most unique and idiosyncratic avant-garde singer/song-writers I’ve heard in recent years. Rustic and fierce folk structures are thrown into the eerie depths of haunting psychedelia and when it all floats up to the surface again we got ourselves a quiet aural monster made up by dulcimer, pennywhistle, bells, drums, guitar and Grimm’s equally mesmerizing and disturbing vocals. Imagine a secret link between Linda Perhacs and Marianne Nowottny and you’re getting close to what this grower has to offer.


Saturday, January 14, 2006

Autumn Galaxy Harappa (mymwly)
V/A Sound Surrounds Us Volume 3 (mymwly)

Whilst shopping from the mymwly headquarters in Kyogle, Australia you should also get your hands on the first release under the Autumn Galaxy moniker, the long distance relationship between Digitalis head honcho Brad Rose and Finland’s Ville Moskiito. What we get is visceral sonic abstraction in the shape of clouds soaked with reverb-drenched guitars, scraped and plucked strings, melodica and panting organ. The organ and melodica are key components here as they supply the delicate sound webs with the frosty feel of snow-clad landscapes and frozen lakes.

If my memory serves me I believe that I have written a few words about the previous releases in the Sound Surrounds Us Volume series as well, and just as with the predecessors this four track album proves to be very worthwhile. The icing of the cake is the 18 minutes long opener from UK’s Rameses III that is subtle and organic in the same way as Stars of the Lid’s beguiling dronescapes. Pewter’s (Antony Milton, Campbell Kneale and James Kirk) “With Throats As Fine As Needles” continues to explore the epic drone, but this time things get slightly more claustrophobic and dramatic. That aspect is taken to its extreme in the fucked up blast of all things noise and tangle of melting feedback that is “Owl Trigger” from Ajilvsaga (Brad Rose and Nathan Young). A worthy close to a fine compilation.

Brothers of the Occult Sisterhood Canisanubis (mymwly)

Over the next cpl of months I am sure I will bore everyone to death with exactly how excited I am about attending Terrastock 6 in Providence later this year. One of the reasons for my unrestrained enthusiasm is that I’ll be able to experience Australian Brothers of the Occult Sisterhood in the live setting for the very first time. Listening to this CD-R doesn’t by any means reduce my excitement as it includes some of the finest BOTOS pieces to this day. “Augustifolia” is quietly stumbling avant rock clatter that flirts with folk to the same degree as with free jazz. The latter partly comes from the chosen instrumentation, but mostly has something to do with the percussive element, which often nods discreetly in the direction of a number of free jazz giants. The percussive element is stunning throughout and probably the one thing that holds all the far-reaching ideas together. “The Silk Wolf Whose Arrow Spirit Speaks” is just as spiritual as its title suggests with a myriad of acoustic sounds creating the sonic equivalent to the wailing of the desolate wind over the sun-drenched outback. This epic folk/jazz improvisation comes packed right on top of a low-key groove which suggests that things might lead to some sort of mauling tribal folk frenzy but it never quite gets there and that feel of not knowing where things will go next is just devastatingly powerful and beautiful. This track is truly hitting the band’s mark, with outward and inward movements connecting the microscopic variations and the wide-open space of the forever lasting outback with the diversity of the flourishing rainforest. This is a spectacular document of the Australian landscapes and an early contender for those “end of the year” lists.

Fariña Allotments (Pickled Egg)

London quartet Fariña offers a tasty dose of colorful, multi-layered pop arrangements on Allotments, their second album for the lovely Pickled Egg imprint. What we get is a classic pop album with unexpected twists, lovely vocal harmonies and an impressive instrumental variation. The trumpet-laced opener has me thinking about Love era Forever Changes but at other times Talk Talk as well as the American Paisley underground of the '80s come to mind. Allotments is an album that mostly examines well-known territories but it does so beautifully and if the number of listens is any indicator of quality you will know what to do.


Friday, January 13, 2006

Anthony Guerra Empty Kingdoms (Black Petal)

Empty Kingdoms is the new solo disc from Anthony Guerra, an Australian (now relocated to Japan) that recently gained a lot of attention in the Wire. The sounds presented here are somewhat surprising as they’re decidedly more structured and emotional than any of his previous outings. The subdued, Loren Mazzacane Connors-esque guitar playing paints an aural image that from afar might strike you as profoundly sad but the closer you get you realize that there is something irresistibly beautiful and even nostalgic about these mournful guitar sketches as well. Guerra’s music works like a gravitational pull, glacially taking the listener to the heartfelt conclusion, the fantastic “Blackest Little Eyes”.

Spiral Joy Band Lullabies for Jeff Dean (VHF)

Avid readers of the Broken Face should know how highly I rank the work of Virginian Pelt, so it’s with great excitement that I see two thirds of the current Pelt line-up appearing in a new (at least on record) ensemble. Spiral Joy Band is the combined efforts of Mike Gangloff, Mikel Dimmick and Karl Precoda (Last Days of May, The Dream Syndicate) and like one would imagine they conjure a pretty dark and fucked up drone racket that’s not too far off the Pelt experience. Well, that’s not entirely true but they do find their base in the same sort of ghostly, whirring metallic noises and bowed metals that the mothership from time to time examines more closely. Besides the ample use of gently struck metal percussion we get a myriad of barely distinguishable (and pronounceable) acoustic instruments such as Tibetan singing bowl, gong, sruti, bells, flute, esraj, tanpuram, shenai, tongue drum, dumbek and shakers. This is probably one of the reasons why there’s such a great sense of detail amid the random arrangements of drifting and screeching tones.

Pumice Spears (PseudoArcana)

I’ve been keeping my eyes on New Zealand’s Pumice for a while now and although his new release for the PseudoArcana imprint not might top 2004’s Raft, it’s still an impressive piece of melancholia presented in the form of music. First out is the 21 minutes long ”Hulkwind” which with the aid of heavily droning, carefully constructed chord organ sounds tells a darkly buzzing story about forgotten memories. Imagine a more droney and stretched out Galbraith piece and you’re in the right ballpark. The back-masked guitar work and fractured atmosphere that kicks off the decidedly more poppy follower recalls the same man but it soon morphs into something a whole lot more raw and immediate. “Gumption” is loner folk of the instrumental variety while “Motor On” is screeching aural madness on top of carefully plucked guitar. I can’t help but to feel that I am seeing and hearing more than I probably should have. Thoughts about self-destruction and mental images of a broken man are with me long after the last note has faded away. Demanding but very worthwhile.

Alligator Crystal Moth Solis (mymwly)

Alligator Crystal Moth is the marriage between two of the most prolific and talented guys in the underground scene that the Broken Face refers to as home. ACM is Brad Rose of Digitalis fame teaming up with Michael Donnelly of the Australian mymwly collective. Given the quality mark of pretty much everything these two are involved with, the risk of such a project being anything less than fascinating is next to nothing.

Solis exceeds my expectations by delivering an unexpectedly Eastern-tinged kind of meditative and repetitious folk that comes covered in a thick layer of mud and percussive twists. This is deranged and ritualistic yet happy and joyful music that blends beautiful psychedelic folk inflections, murky drone rock, lovely Krautrock grooves and noisy hippie jams along the lines of Amon Düül. There’s a spiritual resonance and intoxicating serenity to these timeless ceremonies and exotic meditations that makes it overflow with some sort of writhing communal spirit despite the fact that these recordings were made through collaboration by mail. This is music that is the aural representation of all the purest things in life. Essential.


Thursday, January 12, 2006

Terrastock 6
Me and my loved one just bought tickets to Terrastock 6. See you there!


Saturday, January 07, 2006

James Blackshaw Sunshrine (Digitalis)

Fingerpicked 12-string guitar beauty crisscross over snow clad meadows and hover over forgotten valleys on Sunshrine, James Blackshaw’s third release. Across the span of 30 minutes we get one epic track and one considerably short that both flows and ebbs in terms of mood and intensity, providing circular guitar structures that are so beautiful and mind-blowingly perfect that they’ll leave you with the mouth wide open, or at least lying on the floor with your eyes closed.

The music does in terms of crystal clear acoustic guitar genius and chord progressions recall Jack Rose and Fahey but Blackshaw’s expression is still very much one of a kind. This might have something to do with the occasional addition of tinkling bells, harmonium, bowed cymbals and Farfisa organ which makes him honor what has been and in the meantime look further than most musicians have the capacity to do. Sunshrine is in its structure quite simple but the grace and beauty that comes wrapped around the subtly shifting guitar colors is nothing short of spectacular. If this is any quality indicator of what sort of music I’ll hear in 2006 it’ll be one hell of a year.