Harris Newman


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On Harris Newman's third solo album with Strange Attractors, the Canadian guitarist makes what might be his most distinct effort yet, having come from an understandable realm of John Fahey and Robbie Basho worship to make his own contemplative mark on the field. (That said Newman still honors the spirit of Fahey well with his puckish song titles, including "The Malarial Two-Step" and "Blues for Vilhelm.") Beginning with the dramatic "Our Cavalcade of Sightless Riders," a softly murky start moving into a quickly rolling flow that's pure atmosphere of the best kind, seeming to rise and fall like waves or a road up and down hills, Decorated is the kind of good solo acoustic guitar album that works under both close attention and as evocative ambient music. Newman's ever-more-evident skills and creativity suit him well track for track, whether it's on the series of delicate runs at the heart of "Anamnesis" or the enjoyable rollick of "Opera House Stomp," a collaboration with drummer Eric Craven. "Blues for Vilhelm" is Newman at his most experimental, embracing electronic drone in a way that sounds like early-'80s Glenn Branca having exchanged rhythmic obsession for sheer strung-out howl, while the closing "A Quarter to Call the Ambulance" extends that idea in further ways, with a series of rising, siren-like moans ending the album on a note of unsettled dread.

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