Glen Echo Autoharp

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Moviola's fourth album is by far their most ambitious. The 70-plus minutes here are a jumbled montage of ragged song fragments, along with longer, more polished compositions -- even the latter being plenty rough around the edges. Adhering to the lo-fi recording aesthetic of early releases, Glen Echo Autoharp was recorded straight to four-track, and the album resonates with murky basslines and fuzzy guitars. Far from being constricting, the rudimentary production allows the band to both narrow its focus and diversify its sound. With all four members switching instruments -- and principal songwriter Ted Haettner sharing vocal and writing duties liberally -- Glen Echo Autoharp is driven by a multitude of impulses. In that variety lies the album's main strength. Rendered with patience and restraint, Moviola wanders plenty, but they never get lost. Strong melodies and an eclectic, poignant moodiness make up for any lack of cohesion here, keeping the material fresh and compelling throughout.

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