Accidents With Nature and Each Other
For those unaccustomed to compositional guitar music, Constellation Records’ uber-recordist Harris Newman’s latest disc may be a hard pill to swallow. Still, it’s easier to take in than his even more abstract debut, the aptly named Non Sequiturs. Newman’s pieces imply grand, sweeping vistas, clear skies and an innate enormity with little more than an acoustic guitar. His gently cyclical riffs jostle through the six strings and bloom into ringing, dissonant chords. Where his previous work coasted by on disparity and a tendency to wander, Newman has found a clearer sense of melody and musical trajectory this time around, thanks largely to the occasional hands lent by Polmo Polpo’s Sandro Perri and Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Bruce Cawdron. The grounding and focus these two additions make is enormous, especially on “Lake Shore Drive” and “Lords & Ladies.” Both of these tracks unfold like modest epics. The former tenses like a calm before the storm and could easily be sipped into a rural-set suspense film. In fact, the whole project owes a debt to western film music, particularly that of Ennio Morricone. Just as Morricone placed character emphasis on various instruments, Newman does so with guitar textures. Additional color is added to the mix through a healthy dose of pedal steel. The short ambient tracks Newman creates with it go a long way to offset the otherwise steady stream of fingerpicking. They not only save the album from redundancy, they eke out a nice niche in his repertoire for him to expound on the next time around.
Strange Attractors: www.strange-attractors.com