Monday, November 4, 2013

Nathan McLaughlin - Karen Studies (ST13)

These beautiful deconstructions are devoted to Humboldt Relief.  Peace and love to my friends over there :)

Even before pressing play, I had a hunch that Karen Studies would be a tape to remember.  The emotional honesty expressed on the j-card encompasses one in a spectrum of energy that radiates from Nathan McLaughlin's banjo.  This latest release from Nathan, on Scissor Tail Editions, is a tape that concerns the folk musician, Karen Dalton.  More specifically, these are deconstructions of  'Katie Cruel', an old American folk song most prominently recorded by Karen Dalton.  Her version is renown for good reason. Within the last seven to ten years, White Magic released a record on Drag City that contained the track - another beautiful rendition. Karen Studies consists of two side-long tracks, each of which consists of three parts.

       Being such a moving, affecting track, Nathan's reworkings of 'Katie Cruel' proficiently exhibit the banjo's range.  Side A, Promises, commences with sustained, vibrant passages that inculcate the living space with a sense of anguish.  In the next section, lucid, poignant strings hover uneasily - plucks producing sorrow so visceral.  The first two parts of side A are ones to remember.  On the flipside, incipient drone slowly exudes energy.  Shortly, notes waffle with apprehension in the presence of creaking drones.      

Through these resonant reworkings, Nathan bestows a level of emotional intensity on the listener that is omnipresent.  It's the type of sonic energy that hangs uneasily, waffling in the still air, almost paralyzing - the listener hanging onto each manifestation of sound. For anybody that appreciates banjo, Karen Dalton, Stephen R. Smith, and more generally, sound and experimentation, then I recommend to move quickly before this one is OOP.  Produced in a limited edition of 100, Karen Studies may be purchased directly from Scissor Tail.

peace and love, friends :)