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The Blind Spot

by Alec K. Redfearn and the Eyesores
Cuneiform Records, Silver Springs, MD, 2007
Audio CD $ 15.00
Rune 244
Distributor’s website: http://www.cuneiformrecords.com.

Reviewed by Michael R. (Mike) Mosher
Saginaw Valley State University


Alec Redfearn's "Myra" wafts out of the Victrola, uh, the CD player, like a parlor song written circa 1885. Its séance-like insubstantiality is maintained with images of a dead girl's reappearance or presence throughout the lyrics, but there are also more recent references to infomercials and naugahyde to be found there. Redfearn gives us a sort of neo-archaeo-folk, evoking Michigan band the Great Lakes Myth Society or even Sufjan Stevens.

"Blue on White" may be too slight for a soldier's song, though, and one becomes aware of the reliance on sixteenth notes in many of these tunes. The piston-like figures fill intricate violin scores, which violinist Laura Gulley meets head on and forthrightly. In "Blue on White", the soprano voice of Ellen Santellos seems to have wandered in from another party, but she's integral to the next cut, "The Radiator Hymn". After that, two texts are vocalized simultaneously, while the music pokes at atonality, in "The Burning Hand". All three of these tracks seem to be about corpses, as if in the aftermath of war, which Redfearn sews together in a cycle called "I Am the Resurrection and the Light". Yet the album's liner notes say they're about friends dead of drug overdoses, and his own struggle with addiction.

The feel of the entire album is a bit brittle, as could be expected from fellow in recovery. This is not like music played in the United States since Edgar Allan Poe, except maybe in Virgil Thompson's salon. This reviewer can't think of the last time when he's heard American music with no blues inflections anywhere, no hint of the African. It could be work music for the studios of eccentric mid-century artists Joseph Cornell, Pavel Tchelitchew or John Graham.

And it grows "curiouser and curiouser"... In The Blind Spot, feminine voices and violins express apprehension. "The Perfect Veil", is like a deracinated "Theme from Shaft" translated into Venusian. A composition called "The Flesh of the Drum" draws inspiration from Hieronymous Bosch's painting "The Garden of Earthly Delights" in the Prado museum, Madrid, like the musical instruments depicted in it that were recreated and appear on the album. The reviewer recalls that one panel of Bosch’s memorable triptych was reproduced and distributed in an album by the Godz on ESP-DIsk records in the late 1960s, some growling big city characters too rough and ill-mannered for Alec Redfearn.



Updated 1st September 2007

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