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 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

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
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Oso
48507
TEAM AV

Rating: 9/10 ?


October 26, 2005
Notes are plucked from guitar strings and across the fingerboard with a general idea of musical direction but with not as much exactness extended to detail. The only comparable imagery is a small pebble skipping across a large clear lake, with its inertia pushing towards the sun-lit horizon but the water dragging it in every other direction until it is finally pulled under and brought to the water's murky bottom. Another rock has been swallowed; bubbles rise to indicate what was once above the surface. A couple of seconds later, a hand grabs another muddy stone and hurls it side-armed across the water towards a waning sun, waiting to be pierced by that next toss.

A voice is urged out in ghostly echoing tones. Some would call it soulful - and not in the Marvin Gaye sense of the word - but more in an 'acceptance for how to make things fit within its place' way: a cosmic awareness. The voice, as a lead instrument, takes charge of certain moments, and at others it is a peripheral sound, as repetitive (seemingly) tribal chants are uttered at a distant proximity. The voice comes and goes as needed and appropriate, always arriving at the right time, always knowing when it is welcome.

These two activities are the floorboard of Oso, that which is better known as Phil Taylor. You might even know who Phil Taylor is. His past is covered with out-of-the-ordinary activities just as the bottom of a pond is coated with small flat stones, except in Taylor's life there is no time to build up any algae.

Oso is his latest undertaking and might be the most graphic illustration of his skills, although it's a bit of a toss-up: he rides unicycles all over the nation; he entered a bike messenger race in Chicago in 2003 (with little preparation) and smoked the competition; he was featured in Guitar Player magazine; he was asked to play the Santa Barbara Chamber Music Festival this spring; and he was one-forth of critically acclaimed group Volta Do Mar.

Taylor seeks out personal exhilaration in some of the most off-the-beaten-path places and ventures, and to the credit of that insatiable desire, Oso is birthed into a worldly posture. A small amount of what characterizes Taylor's musicianship within Volta Do Mar makes it to the forefront of his eponymous solo creation. The greater part of 48507 is a journey of experiences, elaborations and sounds. Consistently holding together these streaming flows are the two aforementioned distinct staples of Taylor's ad hoc, mutating acoustic guitar work and everyman vocal timbre.

Maybe it is more appropriate to compare the omnipresent guitar flutterings to the flight of a bird, and the intermittent vocals to the sweeping winds that propel that bird into different directions. Regardless of the metaphor, the sound of 48507 is connected to a basic, natural spirit as met through the resonating frequency of one mind.

Musical comparisons will no doubt be made to the likes of Jaki Liebezeit/Can and John Fahey. Similar to their stylings, Oso shows a similar bending of rock 'n' roll/folk into an avant garde and ethereal segment of music that once seemed unnatural but eventually can be realized as a foreshadowing to a more inclusive cultural potential.

Much like Fahey as well, Taylor's sound can be seen as divergent towards a non-Western style of music. 'Tribal' seems to be the easiest classification without a tended study. More appropriately could select segments be dubbed applications of Eastern Asian/Indian and Latin styles. Nevertheless, with exceptional mixing and production, the sounds are all part of the original fabric of the 'music,' whether a dusty recording is present to give an indigenous feel, or a hollow dance hall sound creates the effect of an ethereal advancement of the musical soul. Utilized throughout the album are shakers, horns, finger cymbals, hand drums (such as the Indian tabla), and interpretive Asian singing styles to go along with more Westernized steel and slide guitar, loop effects, drum machines, tambourine, strings (such as a cello or viola) and a subtle drum kit played with both thin and heavy sticks.

There are also tracks on 48507 that represent Taylor's experiences with unique personalities and whereabouts. Hand recordings of individuals speaking about writing songs about birds, the dangers of Satan, how Israelites are "bad-ass" people, and so on. As these gritty recordings play, one can hear Taylor speaking with the unidentified individuals, enjoying the comments they make, and taking in their thoughts regardless of how crazy they may seem. These tracks bring the entire album into a context of commonality: while Taylor is making music from so many walks of life and seemingly through manic conventions, other people have been there with him, to add to the great nature that the word 'unique' can actually mean.

It's been some time since I have critically listened to an album without being able to notice something that I think can be immediately improved upon. Phil Taylor has made a seemless album with 48507, one that is true to heart and excels in both design and execution of that design. Not only this, but the album is deep - deep like a pond or maybe a lake, where a tossed stone somehow avoids settling and continues to follow the natural currents, wherever the strange and murky waters will take it.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger

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