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The use of a simple, melodic guitar has often earned Minamo comparisons to Gastr del Sol, Giuseppe Ielasi, and other avant-garde artists strongly influenced by the left side of folk. But Shrine/Nest, the group's second opus, goes against the grain by mostly featuring piano, electric or acoustic, real or sampled. The guitar is still there, but much more discreet. Released as a limited-edition CD-R on Tu M''s Mr. Mutt imprint, Shrine/Nest consists of two long improvisations -- much longer than the material found on their debut -- recorded in the fall of 2002. The 30-minute "Shrine" progresses very gradually, accumulating elements as it unfolds, much in the same way that the Necks structure their large-scale pieces (the focus on the piano only strengthens the comparison). Electric piano and chirping electronics provide the basis of the piece, an otherworldly meditation. "Nest" comes closer to the music expected from this group. The 35-minute track features less piano, a bit more guitar, violin, and an extra dose of quiet digital noise events. This one is in constant transformation, and its sound palette goes through a number of significant changes. It has the feeling of an extended No-Neck Blues Band improvisation that would follow aesthetics closer to the electro-acoustic improv ethos than the free-folk one. Individual contributions are also easier to pinpoint. Shrine/Nest may not be as impressive as the group's subsequent albums for 12K and Aperstaarje, but fans of the group making the effort to locate a copy will not be disappointed. It irradiates the same kind of beauty found in their other releases, a beauty that is an acquired taste not so hard to acquire.

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