Matt Valentine

Glorious Group Therapy

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Recorded in the '90s (the liner notes don't go into more details) and first released on cassette, Matt Valentine's solo effort Glorious Group Therapy received a more official release in 2003 in the form of an LP from Ecstatic Yod. Dressed in jeans, straw hat, smoking pipe in mouth, and a (bass?) banjo with an oversized neck in hand, Valentine's front cover photograph hints at a grassroots platter, but the music is much closer to neo-psychedelic folk than banjo music (even Eugene Chadbourne's take on the genre). Side One begins with two long tracks (7 minutes each). "Feel...The Music" is a spacy improvisation with Dean Roberts, and Valentine's partner in Tower Recordings, Erika Elder doing "space whispers" (a nod to Gong?). An educated guess would be that for "Cocola's Ebonic Journey,"Valentine recorded three folk-styled guitar improvisations, overdubbing each time without playback. The result is gentle and graceful, and against all odds. Follow two shorter tracks, including "Joaquin Antique Riverboat Hizzos" featuring percussionist Tim Barnes. The latter is back on tablas for the first piece on the B-side, aptly titled "Moonshine Raga." Once again, we are treated to two longer pieces followed by short addendums. "I'm Going Down the River" is a solo on that long-neck banjo, so heavy on bent notes you'll wonder if the turntable's vari-speed has not sprung a mind of its own. Definitely odd, Glorious Group Therapy, nevertheless includes some straightforward playing from Mr. Valentine. It's not his most convincing work, but it contributes to building an aura of strangeness around him.

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