Doug McComb’s first album as Brokeback is imbued with pastoral Impressionism, experimentalism, and a sense of Zen contentment. The record is mostly centered around his Bass VI, a short-scale bass with six strings that is trebly enough to function in both guitar and bass roles. This versatile instrument is usually wet with chorus and reverb that sculpt a fluid, aquatic tone to complement the slow, tranquil melodies. Outside of some solo pieces Doug is joined by a variety of accompaniment including lap steel guitar, synth, upright bass, Rhodes, vocals from Mary Hansen, and light percussion provided by producer/Tortoise bandmate John McEntire. This is a record that can be appreciated from a passive impressionistic standpoint, as well as under the microscopic attention of an engaged ear. (Follow link for full review)
Recommended for fans of Tortoise or Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti Western soundtracks
“Side A is cut at 45rpm and features “Moya”, a broiling cascade of upward scales that repeatedly explodes beyond its own threshold. “BBF3” on Side B clocks in at 18 minutes, and was the band’s most lyrical, multi-movement music to date — more elaborated melodic figures wind around an angry spoken-word field recording (infamously culminating in the recital of the speaker’s poem — verses lifted straight from Iron Maiden)”
After 20+ years of using his introspective songwriting as a playground for psychedelic lo-fi experimentation, underdog hero Emil Amos hands the production reins to John Angello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr.) for his most polished album yet, capturing the best aspects of 70’s rock classics without ever feeling cliché. The hi-fi analogue production brings a newfound clarity and depth that allows Amos’ songwriting and instrumental performances to bloom; the choruses are anthemic, the atmospheres are darkly psychedelic, and his lyrics are just as philosophical and contemplative as ever.
Originally released in 1974 2018 Earth Records Pressing Digitally Remastered Format: LP
Released in 2004 on Constellation Records Format: LPx2, Side D is blank
On Automaginary, the Gnawa-inspired cosmic jazz of Natural Information Society is augmented by the flowing textures of Chicago new age trio Bitchin Bajas to create an album of enveloping drones and trance-inducing rhythms. (Follow link for full Review)
Released in 1974 on Virgin Records Original U.S. Pressing, Promo Copy
Information: Released in 1978 on PVC Records Format: LP
A psychedelic synth odyssey created with only an expanded Series III Moog by Robert Margouleff and synth-guru Malcolm Cecil (who programmer synths on legendary albums by Stevie Wonder and Gil-Scott Heron in addition to his ambient solo work). The intricately layered results here feel like a synthetic wilderness, with a wide variety of colors and textures that sound warm, organic, and natural despite their electronic origins.
Information: Released in 2002 on Constellation Records
On his debut album, the guitar and banjo virtuoso starts off with a 22-minute droning epic fusing American and Arabic Folk music with Indian Raga on his acoustic guitar (often trying to imitate the feeling of the oud). Here, he is accompanied by the fluid, driving drums of Billy Higgins. Side 2 is made up of 4 shorter solo pieces, mostly for the banjo, including an impressive rendition of “Carmina Burana” by German composer Carl Orff and a folky mountain song.
Album Information: This album was self-released on CD in 1997 This pressing was released by Constellation Records in 2013 Format: … More
Saxophonist Colin Stetson and violinist Sarah Neufeld employ innovative performance techniques, mutating ostinatos and an atmospheric sense of texture to compose minimalist compositions that are as brooding and haunting they are hypnotically beautiful.
Acoustic-shredder/singer-songwriter ventures out of the jazz-inflected folk-rock territory explored by his last few albums to create something that feels fully himself. Deafman Glance is full of angular left turns, complex structures, airy flutes, jazz detours, and psychedelic atmospheres. A balance of great songwriting, jazz musicianship, and experimental/art-rock tendencies. Recommended to fans of Tortoise’s Standards, Tim Buckley’s Starsailor, and King Crimson’s Red. (Click for full review).
Performed on acoustic guitar and an early delay pedal, Christopher Idylls is a soothing, reflective way to ease into the morning. It fits somewhere between ambient, new age, and American primitive guitar.
Album Information: Released in 1967 on Takoma Records Includes 15-page book of stories and song notes
“Recorded in an old wooden barn, this second album is swaddled in twilight autumnal ambiance. While the record is bookended by the band’s awesome psych-rock explosions, much of the material here shows increased referencing of jazz influences (modal horns, brushed percussion) and a more organic deployment of micro-electronics. Raw and polished, visceral and cerebral, the band combines rock and jazz traditions of space music with the ‘instrumental’ potentials of mixing room to present a true gem of a record.” (Press Release)
A fingerpicking folk odyssey that traverses through passages of delicate piano motifs, tribal drum circles, meditative ambience, celebratory horn arrangements, reverent organ drones, and even a cathartic drum solo, all within a single 40 minute track.
Album Information: Released in 2009 on Constellation Records Tracklist A1 – Do A2 – Make B1 – Say B2 – … More