Boomkat Product Review
*Expanded CD Edition - includes over 35 minutes of material not featured on the vinyl edition of this album* Another highly anticipated release from the excellent Digitalis imprint - this time from Boxhead Ensemble's Scott Tuma who manages to weave a sound that incorporates dense and unsettling field recordings with Takoma-esque porchside strums, wiry violin, rhythmic metal scrapes, music-box interludes, Location recordings, Shortwave signals, spectral banjo plucks and distant piano sequences. The first thing we hear is the exaggerated whirr of phased tape treatments opening up to expose beautiful, disjointed music box chimes that carve out a mysterious, nocturnal path through 'San Luis Free 2E'. This short piece gives way to the similarly fleeting 'Old Woman', another miniature populated by wiry violin and rhythmic metal scrapes. It's only by the time 'Red Roses For Me' comes around that we're really permitted enough breathing space to fully cast ourselves into Tuma's universe. Here, layered field recordings underscore spectral banjo plucks, distant piano sequences, and eventually, a folksy accordion melody. It's this kind of fragmented, displaced approach to acoustic music that best represents Tuma's craft, whisking him far away from comparisons to the legions of Fahey-ites out there and other such contemporary exponents of Americana. 'Again And Again' marks another highlight, sculpting a nebula of airy guitar twangs and manipulated drone vapours. By this point the album seems to be converging on more fully-formed, song-like arrangements, all of which leads us up to 'Hope Jones (Jason's Song)', where we hear a voice rising from the ghost-country stillness. All this invites a moment of outright spine-tingling beauty before 'Free Dirt' limbers up to shred your nerves in the most exhilarating fashion, offering considerably more visceral pleasures with its bowed metal percussion, howling feedback and dissolved room sounds. The closing couplet of 'True History' and 'The Roses Are Red' deliver some sort of catharsis - the former dispensing glorious reverberant blues while the latter finds Tuma's guitar achieving a kind of weightlessness, floating off into the atmosphere in a fashion that's halfway between Loren Connors and The Durutti Column. The bonus material kicks off with a 21 minute "intermission" that seems to really transport you somewhere completely different, creating a collage of shortwave recordings and seemingly ancient transmissions to act as a kind of cathartic break before three lovely pieces end the album with the porchside strums only Tuma seems to produce with such emotional clarity and finesse. An important, beautiful album from a true master of modern Americana and experimental music that should not be missed.