Though Jherek Bischoff had already established himself as a multi-purpose asset to experimental indie bands like Xiu Xiu and Parenthetical Girls, and as a freelance producer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist, or songwriter for a number of others, his breakthrough under his own name came with Composed, his second solo album. It arrived six years after a 2006, entirely D.I.Y. self-titled debut. In contrast, Composed features several guests, including such high-profile ones as David Byrne, Caetano Veloso, and Nels Cline. Despite its orchestral sound, Composed was recorded one instrument at a time in living rooms around L.A. by Bischoff, and compiled on a laptop. (The two exceptions were Byrne and Veloso, who recorded their own vocals and sent them to Bischoff.) The result is an expansive blend of quirky chamber pop, avant-garde classical, old-time cabaret, and lush scoring that sets its creator apart from the crowd. The Byrne track, "Eyes," is a sweeping pop confection with Latin rhythms and ukulele that captures the weirdness of an early Danny Elfman film score and the ease of an island laze. If there's a trick to Bischoff's music, it's this ability to parlay such ambitious arrangements into charming set pieces that are, well, fun. Veloso is joined by percussionist Greg Saunier of Deerhoof on "The Secret of the Machines," a sparser entry that plays with dissonance, rhythm, timbre, and melody. In keeping with the album's spirit of adventure, its lyrics are taken from the poem of the same name by Rudyard Kipling. The rest of the set follows in kind -- grand and unpredictable, but warm and familiar. Those inspired by the songs' unique disposition may want to follow up with Scores, an instrumental version of the album that Bischoff released a few months later.
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AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson