Scott Tuma's sophomore effort is once again rooted deeply in the soil of the forgotten ghosts of American music's past. Like Hard Again, Tuma crafts long, ambiguous soundscapes made with real instruments that meet the listener in a territory where memory, illusion, sense impression, and emotion share a peaceful, if somewhat uneasy relationship to one another. Tuma is very much an American primitive; he can rightfully be placed alongside people like Harry Partch and Henry Flynt but sounds like neither one though he evokes their independence. Each note of this sonic tapestry is considered for its textural and emotional weight before being grafted in by means of acoustic guitars, sticks, and a lone note on a calliope held for an extended period of time, until it reaches a shapelessness where nothing but feeling remains. The sublime spaces in between these notes are where the listener fits, encountering what has come before and dialoguing sensually with it just as another sound whispers down into the heart, evoking spirits, dreams, visions, or traces of something that might have been. This is genre-less music except that it is quintessentially American in its simple, fragmented melodies that never feel discontinuous. They just are as they are drawn from guitars, cembaloms, banjos, harmonicas, and organs. These four tracks don't feel all of the same piece the way Hard Again did, but they nonetheless make up the parts of a whole, where crisscrossing emotional states are gathered together to meet, converse, and leave one another after having been informed by one another. This is a lot to claim for one record, but Tuma does it effortlessly with taste, tenderness, and grace.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek