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Prem's Faves, 2007
{so far; no particular order}
KUSF San Francisco, 90.3 FM
Band/Artist Release Record Label Prem's Spew
Sir Richard Bishop Polytheistic Fragments Drag City an inspiring mix of acoustic guitar solos (mostly) of a variety of styles, from the flamenco/Django Reinhardt feel of the first track, "Cross My Palm with Silver," to the middle eastern taqsim style of "Rub' al Khali" which imitates the sound of the oud--a Mediterranean lute--to the Americana touches of "Tennessee Porch Swing" and beyond, Rick Bishop presents his more introspective side (sans Sun City Girls); not everything on this release revolves around the guitar, however, as the piano-focused track "Saraswati" evokes a meditative raga-like feel while the reverie-like "Ecstasies in the Open Air" brings into play both the electric guitar and flute
Sir Richard Bishop While My Guitar Violently Bleeds Locust Music while this release, containing only three tracks, offers less of the diversity experienced on Rick Bishop's other 2007 release, "Polytheistic Fragments" (see above), the tasty offerings certainly captivate; "Zurvan" features blindingly fast fingerwork which seems to infuse the flamenco style with Persian elements (Zurvan being a Persian god of time), while "Smashana" serves up a feast of warpingly caustic tones and feedback and "Mahavidya" ventures into the realm of the afternoon raga, approximating the Indian form on guitar, beginning with a contemplative 14-minute alap (abstract improvisation) which transforms into the increasingly assertive strumming of the jor and culminates in the final two minutes with the insistent jhala, each phase backed by the drone of the tamboura
The Nels Cline Singers Draw Breath Cryptogramophone on a release that stitches together tapestries of differing moods which might not otherwise be expected to converge so seamlessly, one hears everything from looming ominousness to avant garde jazziness to sci-fi scapes to lurking Black Sabbath-inspired riffage to breezily beautiful fingerpicking to atmospheric doom to avant garde rock ala Sonic Youth to medieval music and beyond; Cline's multilayered approach to guitar, coupled with the intuitively cohesive work of bassist Devin Hoff and percussionist/electronic musician Scott Amendola (with Glenn Kotche, percussionist from Cline's other band Wilco providing the medieval flair on one track; no vocals--surprise!), produces pieces which develop naturally in spite of themselves, always shifting gears methodically at absolutely the best possible moment instead of sounding haphazardly thrown together
Ghost in the House Ghost in the House Edgetone Records envision a dark room with only the flickering flames of candles infiltrating the shadows, and you will better comprehend the live setting in which this ensemble purveys the spectral music characteristic of its very name--haunting, shivery, and unsettling; trembling pitches and murky glissandi emanate from David Michalak's lap steel guitar, while Karen Stackpole elicits portentous tolls and menacing scrapes from her gongs and percussion, Kyle Bruckmann generates slitheringly anti-melodic sequences on oboe or English horn, and Tom Nunn adds jitteringly unpredictable knocks, pings, clicks, and resonances--as though interpreting en masse the synaptic cornucopia of insects devouring carrion--via the unique instruments he builds from scratch
Glenn Jones Against Which the Sea Continually Beats|Solos for 6 & 12 String Guitar Strange Attractors Audio House picking up where his last release left off, Glenn Jones again amazes the casual listener with the dexterity and style of his acoustic fingerpicking as well his creativity regardless of form, whether modified slide blues ("Island 1," "Richard Nixon Orchid," "Against My Ruin," "Island 2"), folk ("Little Dog's Day"), or the more meditative composition and/or improvisation of the remaining tracks (and please note that "Freedom Raga" is in fact not a raga); to the more careful listener, however, the complex counterpoint of each of these tracks and the deceptively effortless confluence of consonant with dissonant intervals in the chord structures Jones implements afford him stand-alone status [2006 release]
Kable Boar of the Forest Fleece Records elements of psych rock, disto folk, and noiz weirdness converge on this recording--often immersed in mind-warping echo effects, reverb, and/or barely noticeable to unsettling atmospheres--with Kay Bonya singing (and providing eerily overdubbed vocals/whispers) and playing all instruments [electric guitar (and reversed electric guitar), electric bass, acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo, drums, drum machine, piano, bells/tonal percussion, hand percussion, acoustic bass, robotic sounds, more], sometimes in your face (tracks 1, 6, 15), sometimes with a folksy sense of humor (track 13), and at other times dark and mysterious; a veritable cornucopia of sounds and influences which, after only a few listens, becomes deeply ingrained [2006 release]
Marcel Khalifé Taqasim Connecting Cultures Records few recordings capture the lower register of the oud (a fretless instrument of lute family, common in the Middle East and Greece) so exceptionally, pairing it here with the haunting contrabass (violin) of Peter Herbert and the embellishing hand percussion of Bachar Kalifé; the mesmerizing confluence of improvisational elements of taqasim, raga, and free jazz with hints of flamenco and chamber music sets this recording apart from its peers on so many different levels, and Marcel Khalifé musically interprets the poetry of his childhood Palestinian peer in Lebanon--Mahmoud Darwish--without words, but with spiritual, emotional, and technical virtuosity
Melt-Banana Bambi's Dilemma A-Zap Records [Prem's Spew coming soon]
Mouth of the Architect The Ties That Blind Translation Loss Records [Prem's Spew coming soon; 2006 release]
Nekromantix Life Is a Grave & I Dig It! Hellcat Records [Prem's Spew coming soon]
Joanna Newsom & the Ys Street Band Joanna Newsom & the Ys Street Band E.P. Drag City [Prem's Spew coming soon]
Odd Nosdam Level Live Wires Anticon Records [Prem's Spew coming soon]
Powerhouse Sound Oslo/Chicago: Breaks Atavistic [Prem's Spew coming soon]
Spezza Rotto Tredici Canzoni Spezza Rotto [Prem's Spew coming soon; 2006 release]
Wolf Eyes Human Animal Sub Pop [Prem's Spew coming soon; 2006 release]
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