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Molasses “Trouble at Jinx Hotel” [Alien8]

Fourth serving of this Montreal mixture, chiefly stirred and
slurred by Scott Chernoff. Molasses is a material known for
its being dark, thick and slow…those qualities ooze forth
on this release as well. Of course, lower case molasses is
the reduction of sweet sugar cane, while Molasses is the
reduction of the more sour aspects of life. “Jinx” is almost
spiritually devoted to despondency, and distilled with tiny
drones too. Prayers are tossed on the slowburn of the lyrics
fairly often, sunshine threatens at times to break thru but
Chernoff’s heavy-to-the-point-of-herniated vocals prevent
any gravity-defying or even the robbing of grave feelings.
His broken spoken words get ghosted by Jennifer Menard
and others. The songs are usually set in the hazy strum of
a guitar chord or three, augmented nicely by harrowing
haloes of GodSped guitars. Add in stretchy acoustic bass,
a most morose marimba, slow-bowed saws…all keeping the
pace and outlook bleak. This CD is a rustic rocking chair
on a porch somewhere mossy, but its runners are rusted
so it can’t move too much. Still well carved.

  • Reviewed by Thurston Hunger on June 17, 2004 at 4:34 pm
  • Filed as Format,A Library,CD
  • 1 comment
  • Joanna Newsom “Milk-Eyed Mender” [Drag City]

    Guileless yet wily comes Joanna Newsom. A recent adoptee of
    the Bay Area, has touched notes and hearts with the Pleased
    and Nervous Cop, this album is nearly 100% her and her alone.
    Pluckier than her harp strings and luckier than the stars
    above, her soothing songs connect ancient Greek minstrels to
    Vulcan folk songs. Her harp is such a mammoth instrument,
    its menacing stature belieing its lamb-like nature. Newsom’s
    voice exists outside of time, she likely sang this way when
    she was 8, and still will when she’s 80. At her shriller
    moments, she may prove too much the harpy for some. For me,
    I’m completely enchanted…having seen her live next to
    her harp enhanced the childlike nature of the performance.
    She does play some other instruments here as well, including
    harpsichord adding to the anachronistic pull of this LP.
    It’s a cozy album, in package and in play. Her lyrical
    wool-gathering kept me enrapt, others may find it too
    bramble and briar. For me, it’s just plum peachy!

  • Reviewed by Thurston Hunger on June 17, 2004 at 1:10 am
  • Filed as Format,12-inch,A Library
  • Comment on this review
  • Pierre Labbe “Risque et Pendule” [Actuelle]

    Six piece ensemble of Montreal McNuggets led by reedman Pierre
    Labbe. While this album has moments that fly like free jazz
    (stoking the Ornette Coleman stove on #7) and slices of the
    lead-off track, this album does toss a lot of proggy precision
    down the pipe as well. #6 is the zenith of the latter. Overall
    spidery cello and spiky violin keep the listeners on our toes
    with meticulously mapped stretches between the improv work.
    Toss in a lot of cuckoo clock percussion and you get an album
    that snaps into place more than it swings to and fro. Bernard
    Falaise (from Miriodor) knifes guitar through at key times,
    notably on “Bloops!!” Also on #3 he brings a sort of Masada
    coolness and on #8 his work against Labbe’s sax stairsteps
    up nicely in the bookend composed sections surrounding more
    free fire from Labbe. The more Falaise the better on this
    album for me and Labbe’s flute work is gusty and gutsy. The
    last piece is a gorgeous slow farewell to a largely skittish
    album. Several tracks go from spellbinding to sonically
    dispelled in seconds, it succeeds and fails in weird ways.

  • Reviewed by Thurston Hunger on June 2, 2004 at 4:05 pm
  • Filed as Format,CD,Jazz
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