Eugene Chadbourne

Della 5-Banger

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In any field of avant-garde music the banjo is often considered as the antithesis of experimental music, the symbol of right-wing hillbilly culture. Still, Eugene Chadbourne made it one of his primary tools of expression for decades, perfecting a highly personal style that draws from the Dixieland and Mid-West traditions along with the technique of pioneer free improv guitarist Derek Bailey and an extended vocabulary he forged himself over the years. Della 5-Banger, released in 2000 and probably recorded shortly before is an all solo banjo affair. Sound quality is superior to the House of Chadula average. The banjo has a crisp, clear sound, every detail shines. Only "Snowdrop" features disturbing background noise (a radio?), but it is faint. When the Doctor starts playing, there is no stopping him. He catches his breath once in a while, but the whole thing sounds like one big burst of creativity, one idea lined-up after the next. No gimmicks, no vocals, no treatments or strange edits, this is pure banjo fever (with some preparations at times, like what sounds like plastic chains in "Memories of Piran" and "Memories of Pula"). Of course this CD lacks the variety (some would say dissipation) of Chadbourne's regular releases and may appear linear and monotonous to anyone not caring about banjo music. Consider yourself warned.

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