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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Amps for Christ
The People at Large
5 Rue Christine Records

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Amps for Christ's Henry Barnes has crafted a new record that is quite possibly unlike any other you will listen to in this fiscal year. The former Man is the Bastard member and current pro-Christ noisemaker and folk purveyor holds down the fort in a folk music store in suburban Claremont, just outside of Los Angeles, California. Barnes also crafts many of his own instruments from scratch, using them on his records as he collaborates with like-minded women and men.

The theme of The People at Large generally runs the gamut from Indian raga to experimental electronics to fuzzy no-fi hardcore, but most of all sticks itself firmly into Celtic influenced folk music of the British isles, or Barnes's interpretation of it. Cases in point: "Prince Charlie Stuart," the meandering sing-along folk song voiced beautifully by Tara Tiki Tavi, whose voice is matched by a rollicking violin; "AFC Tower Song," an excellent number sung by Barnes, himself, backed by clearly plucked banjos over a bed of deeply fuzzed out electric guitars; and ""Old Lang Syne/Tube,"" an experimental interpretation of the New Year's Eve standard that is spare and inspiring in its minimal arrangement.

As mentioned earlier, a musical area that Barnes seems to be greatly inspired by/enamored with is the Indian raga. There are several tracks amongst the 23 of The People at Large that follow this path, some fairly traditionally ("Tarsit" and "Tsaress"), and some in Amps for Christ's own fucked up style ("Freddie the Mockingbird" and "Evening"). Several tracks consist of Men's Recovery Project style spoken word snippets over a background of apocalyptic buzzing or white noise, such as "Bug" and "Gold on Mars." These are short, thankfully, as they don't particularly add to the subtle beauty that encompasses the rest of the record. And right smack dab in the middle lies the track, "Branches," an excellent electro-country song that is reminiscent of a more experimental and backcountry Holopaw.

Amps for Christ savor the DIY aesthetic in style, structure (if making your own instruments and electronics isn't DIY, I don't know what is), and choice of labels (in the past AFC albums have been released by Shrimper and Vermiform). The project is also decidedly political. In the CD booklet are couplets like "Don't look now George, but a big snake's got you by the toe/ This time it's Muhamad (sic) sayin' let me people go," as well as "People talking about the war, driving to work just wondering/ Being fooled by the media whore, to let the bombs go thundering." Henry Barnes's music certainly may not fit into the current context of music that is considered "hot" - but The People at Large is an interesting, satisfying, and intelligent listen, regardless.

Reviewed by Jonah Flicker
Jonah Flicker writes, lives, drinks, eats, and consumes music in New York, via Los Angeles. He once received a fortune in a fortune cookie that stated the following: "Soon, a visitor shall delight you." He's still waiting.

See other reviews by Jonah Flicker



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