David Kilgour

First Steps & False Alarms

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A clean-the-vaults release that's a sometimes-murky treat, First Steps & False Alarms cherry-picks from five years' worth of recordings in Kilgour's home tape archive for an overview of his creative starting points from the late '80s and early '90s. Compared to the (appropriately enough) cleaner sound of his earlier solo albums, rougher effects and truly lo-fi, stripped-down arrangements make for quite a change, and in some cases it's actually a bit frustrating. But as a series of snapshots of songs in development -- some are literally fragments or simply random explorations -- it's still quite enjoyable, though definitely an album for the hardcore fan rather than the newcomer. At points the crisp, lovely approach familiar from such albums as Sugar Mouth steps forward. "Tape Machine" is a great example, combining acoustic and electric guitar in a most captivating way. The early take on "Here Come the Cars," meanwhile, is a jaw-dropper, the heavy reverb on both the acoustic guitar and Kilgour's in-the-background vocal calling up whole other worlds in a mere minute and 20 seconds. Other songs, like "Another Echo Downer" and "Landed," aren't quite as stunning, but just as charming and enjoyable. More than once Kilgour comes up with some shatteringly lovely moments that aren't quite replicated on his formal releases. "Scene Two (4 Brian)," with its minimal but full wash of fuzzy keyboards and sighing, wordless vocals, is a brief but astoundingly evocative treat, while the organ beeps into piano and singing then guitar grooves and more on "Untitled" put in a surprising complexity for a home-recorded demo. Lengthy and seemingly patched together from a variety of sources, it still holds together quite well, an exploration in styles and approaches still coming from one central source.

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