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Boomkat Product Review:
The great avant-bluesman Mike Cooper covers Van Dyke Parks, Woody Guthrie, Jim Reeves and Fred Neil, alongside a number of standards deconstructed and restitched in his exceptional mix of vocals, lap steel guitar and loop pedals.
Like an astringent to folk proper, Cooper wickedly dissolves a mix of standards, blues songs and original material with well worn digits across ‘Distant Songs of Madmen.’ Recorded in Palermo, Sicily in June 2011, after a set by his trio, Truth In The Abstract Blues, the LP characterises Cooper in a field of his own, veering from original works of wrenched, spontaneously combusting blues to a mix of relatively straight-played and properly f*cked-up takes on the likes of ‘He’ll Have To Go’, made famous by Gentleman Jim Reeves in the ‘60s, or Woody Guthrie’s country folk jangler ‘Plane Wreck at Los Gatos’, with a real standout in the segue from his ruinous noise in ‘Tinnitus’ to a pealing and shredded flip of Fred Neil’s ‘Dolphins’, which he best remembered played by Tim Buckley (whom he coincidentally met in London ’68).