James Elkington / Nathan Salsburg

Avos

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The debut collaborative acoustic guitar release from Zincs/Horse's Ha member James Elkington and radio host/music archivist Nathan Salsburg is one of those serendipitous things that seems to have come out of nowhere but once heard begs the question of why there's not more yet. But everything has to have a beginning, and from the exuberant start of "Hospitality," an easygoing strut and swing of a piece that has a gently resonant delicacy as well, Elkington and Salsburg deliver a great listen with Avos, seemingly designed for slightly gray but not gloomy afternoons. "Fez and Guinness" also wins for its brilliant title alone, but hearing the elegance of the arrangement as well, one guitar shadowing the other to create an astoundingly rich arrangement, is a real pleasure. "The Blurring Cogs" and "The Queue Outside the Night Ministry" further capture the duo's ear for general engaging sprightliness, sometimes mixed with slower, easier-going melodies, while the combination of guitar-next-to-the-mike feeling and wry humor in sound, evident on "A Free Amft," is not only a treat but calls to mind the sadly departed Jack Rose; if the duo's work doesn't aim for that particular exploratory vein, it carries that same sense of wondrous engagement forward into another decade. Something like the brief title track, a scraggly high-pitched sample of some sort dissolving into a short swirl of guitar sonics and a central melody, sums up the blend of aesthetics at play.

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