Sunday, May 01, 2011

The Migrant's "Travels In Lowland"

I first set eyes on James Talambas at a Theater Fire gig at the Wreck Room, where James came off the stage during his percussion solo banging on everything that didn't move. "That's different," I thought. When Yanari/PFF(F)T! (the aggro that would evolve into HIO) played at the Firehouse Gallery, James was running sound. And when HIO played at "Other Texas Music" at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center last July, the act before us was James playing prepared guitars and autoharps, accompanying a live-sketching graphic artist.

Now he's recording an album with Bjarke Bendtsen, aka The Migrant, who released the album Travels In Lowland (streamable/downloadable via the website, also available on CD or sweet, sweet vinyl) last year. My sweetie successfully bid for a copy of the LP at last night's Thrift Art Show at William Campbell Contemporary Art, where The Migrant performed accompanied by James and Austinite/Fort Worth-expat/once-and-future Top Secret...Shhh mastermind Marcus Lawyer.

Bjarke's Danish, although he sings in English in a manner evocative of the late Tim Buckley and Elliott Smith, or the still sentient but strangely silent Roy Harper. His music's sweet acoustic psychedelia that's reminiscent at times of Daniel Katsuk's (or Donovan's). Underneath the rustic/old-timey instrumentation (recorder, violin, clarinet, non-trap percussion), a lot of the chord progressions have a rock feel, although they're played on acoustic instruments.

In a just universe, and one in which broadcast radio was still relevant, the sing-along chorus to "Lullabye (Play It On the Radio)" would be on everyone's lips, as would the whistled hook from "The Migrant." "Don't Turn Tidal Wave" and "You Think You Know" have the same shimmering dreamscape quality as Syd's Pink Floyd, albeit a little lighter on the whimsy. So far, I've connected more with the second side of this platter than the first, which probably just means I have some enjoyable discoveries awaiting me in the future.

ADDENDUM: "Nothing But Clues" sounds like a hit for Robert Plant, methinks.


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