EvilSponge is for real. That is to say, EvilSponge.org (currently
in it's 3rd year, thank you very much) is at a point where people
are actually sending us Promo Copies of albums to listen to.
I kid you not.
It's a wierd feeling going to the mailbox, opening it up, and
seeing a package, with the Alien8 Recordings logo stamped onto
it, just sitting there. The fact that promos tend to come with
"press sheets" full of information also conflicts with my own
personal habit of avoiding all criticism/commentary about an
album until i have given it at least one listen myself. But
.... what are ya gonna do. It's a "Promo Copy". Let me say that
again, because the words really are almost magical: Promo Copy.
So Villa Claustrophobia is a Promo that came
in lovely packaging. In fact, my limited experience with Alien8
Recordings has indicated that they spend a lot of time on crafting
interesting and lovely cardboard packaging for their releases.
Kind of like Constellation does. Heck, maybe it's a Canadian
Thing. I dunno, but this is really a lovely album to look at.
However, i had never heard of Tanakh. So i sat down to read
the "press sheet" as i put the album in the CD player.
Villa Claustrophobia starts with a foreign voice
singing. It could almost be Islamic music. Reading the press
sheet, this is the voice of Nirmal Bajekal, who also sings in
Ravi Shankar's band. "Ah, so this is to be 'world music'," i
think. I can live with that -- especially seeing as there is
some amazing drone acompanied by subtle percussion going on
along with the voice.
So i sit down on the couch to read the press sheet and listen.
It turns out that Tanakh is the recording project of Jesse Poe,
who has done work with dronesters Pelt. I have a Pelt album
-- amazing stuff. Assisting Mr. Poe on this disc are such luminaries
as David Lowry, Mick Turner, and Ned Oldham.
I pause in my reading to reflect on how odd it is that those
three joined in to make this "world music", when suddenly, the
Indian vocaled drone fades out. Instead of a new drone starting
up, an acoustic guitar strums in, to be joined by tremoloed
electric guitar, eerie keyboards, and voice. Suddenly, rather
than "world music" this is dark dark alt.country type of music.
And good "dark alt.country" at that, with guitars prominant
over the voice, and violin and keys creating a melancholy backing.
It's a strange juxtaposition, this "world music drone" into
"dark alt.country" transition. And yet, it really works. I think
that the minor chords and the slow pace of the songs helps to
convey a connection between the two styles quite nicely.
And the blending is done very well. Songs flow into one another
seamlessly, one drone fading out to be picked up by a solo instrument.
It's quite nice and peaceful. In fact, i think that the unifying
element between the songs is their trance-inducing state. This
is good music to just lose yourself in. The songs waver and
meander.... Anyway, i find it to be good music to shut the brain
Moving right along, the next track on the disk, and indeed
all of the remaining songs, combine these two musical styles.
The third track, Devil's Interval, starts with acoustic
guitar strumming lightly and almost quietly. To this are added
the Indian vocals, violin, drums, keyboards, and, well, a whole
mess of stuff, until the song builds into a powerful swirling
of sound. This is a really well done tune that might very well
be my favorite on the album.
The rest of the album pretty much continues in this vein, and
it's all good. I could sit here and describe all of the songs
to you, but what's the point? If what i have already described
sounds at all interesting to you -- go out and track down a
copy of this. It's really damned cool.