Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A liquor-drenched review of Doubled Exposure

So, I got a little hung up on the idea of liquor as a metaphor for D Charles Speer and the Helix's latest album, Doubled Exposure, and may have gone too far. I really like the album, in part because it seems to balance really out of control intensity with, um I guess, control. Anyway, I wrote:
Doubled Exposure ends in a slouching, low-hitting boogie, the grime-crusted, whiskey-tilted swagger of “Tough Soup” taking this latest album from one-time NNCK-er Dave Shuford out in a round house punch, stars circling, cartoon birds tweeting. It’s a fitting climax to an album that lines up tumblers full of many different varieties of folk-brewed liquor, chugs them down and breathes them out with an intensity that could be lit with a match like a propane torch.

Here, in “Cretan Lords,” the retsin-scented guitar tremors from Shuford’s solo Arghiledes vibrate against an electric blues vamp redolent of Jack Daniels. There in “The Heated Hand,” a veneer of nightclub jazz sophistication slicks over a country two-step, like cracked ice cooling a serving of home-made moonshine. There’s even the sound of a bottle popping to open “Bootlegging Blues,” a dark, primitive slink through the dangerous side of country blues that recalls Charlie Feathers and Johnny Cash. And who knows what sort of intoxicants seep through the smoke and haze mysticism of “Mandorla at Dawn?” the album’s longest, loveliest track is a dead ringer for Rangda’s brand of mandala-spinning psych, though colored with twanging pedal steel.

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