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Brown Bird, James Iha, Michael Alan Snyder

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Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Brown Bird

Fits of Reason

(Supply & Demand Music)

 

Connecting the dots between folk, blues and Eastern music, the latest record from this Rhode Island duo is a refreshing update of old sounds. Trading in his trusty acoustic guitar for an electric, multi-instrumentalist David Lamb embellishes many songs with flashy runs and propulsive progressions. And not to be outdone, Lamb’s partner MorganEve Swain has expanded her role as well, harmonizing with herself on the old-timey “Bow For Blade” as well as laying down a solid bass foundation on “The Messenger.” Elsewhere, “Nine Eyes” revels in an off-kilter Middle Eastern rhythm and the instrumental cut “Iblis” recalls a scene straight out of Arabian Nights (if Scheherazade had told her tales while equipped with a violin). Storytelling makes up a big part of Brown Bird’s charm. Though it can be difficult not to depress a listener with lines of woe, the band succeeds by keeping the music enchanting.

 

James Iha

Look to the Sky

(The End)

Michael Alan Snyder

Super Magnetic Resonator

 

West Hartford’s Michael Alan Snyder is a prolific artist and musician who’s devoted himself to creating highly unusual electronic music and computer art. The latest of his many discs, Super Magnetic Resonator, features an insert that’s a collection of his distinctive artwork. Both music and art have a bit of retro appeal, and are more akin to analog or eight-bit than state-of-the-art computerized production. The mostly non-figural artwork is bright, symmetrical, deeply layered and textured. The music echoes that style, employing old-school synth sounds and straight-ahead rhythms to conjure mooods that vary from calm to jagged. At times, the melodies wander away from the rhythms in flights of fancy that then come back to earth. Keep listening, and you’ll find all sorts of moods and flavors of melody emerging from the electronic layers. What at first seems simple is often anything but. In a 2012 Advocate interview, Snyder said of his music, “I don’t create music for profit. I do it because I want to make people happy if I can, and help them to relax.”

—James Heflin

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