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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]

MUSIC

 » 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
Sir Richard Bishop
Improvika
Locust Music

Rating: 8/10 ?


October 10, 2005
More often than not, critics fault artists for expressing themselves through only one or two obvious forms over the course of an album. Deep intertextuality, a la Radiohead, Tortoise, or DJ Shadow earns you a five star rating; working a narrow strip of the pop landscape like Teenage Fanclub damns you to cult status.

In this sense, Improvika has all of the cards stacked against it. It's an undoctored solo acoustic guitar album - already limiting the amount of territory it can prowl - and an emotionally-charged, avant-garde-leaning outing, the type that always struggle to find life outside of the shadows of Basho and Fahey and usually end up relegated to the album collections of people who "like that kind of thing." Instead of allowing its sparse palate to confine it, however, the album benefits from its narrowed focus, playing out as a lengthy meditation on a handful of ideas rather than an erratic panorama.

"Rudra's Feast," one of the album's highlights, demonstrates Bishop's ability to maintain direction and clarity while still allowing for a bit of stylistic cross-pollination. It opens in pastoral mode, recalling two folk forms: Appalachian bluegrass and Indian raga. Bishop gradually abandons these simple forms, however, shifting into virtuosic tremolo picking until the piece bursts into a riotous bloodbath of acoustic shreddery, blazing as fiercely as any Slayer solo but with more distinction in tone and color. In its dying strains, the tune takes the shape of a Derek Bailey improv session, with disjointed, almost atonal plucking treading the line between fragmentation and outright alienation.

Bishop also shines in more meditative modes. "Gnostic Gem" contains flashes of tremolo but never ignites like "Rudra's Feast," instead panning slowly like a 360 degree survey of a precious stone, while "Mystic Minor 23" sounds exactly like its title suggests and succeeds in creating dark smoke and mirrors atmosphere. Moods these evocative should hold plenty of appeal to any listener.

Reviewed by Phillip Buchan
A one-time music director at WUOG in Athens, Phillip is into college radio, literature, writing, buying records, going to shows, talking to friends, learning -- pretty much the same stuff that all of us priveledged, (pseudo?)intellectual Americans are into.

See other reviews by Phillip Buchan

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