Paul Brill

Harpooner

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As heard on his fourth album, Harpooner, Paul Brill isn't so much a singer/songwriter as a composer, and not so much a composer as a sound collagist. He constructs his musical tracks from snatches of conventional instruments -- piano, bass, oboe, English horn, cello, trumpet -- larded with, as a credit for Joe Bonadio puts it, "percussion, all things beaten and broken." It all sounds like a bunch of kitchen utensils, a couple of alarm clocks, and a music box slowly tumbling down a flight of stairs. To this, Brill adds his voice, singing in a register above his natural one and occasionally breaking into falsetto, phrasing lazily in sing-song melodies as if he were just waking up from a nap. The songs lurch along to ramshackle rhythms as Brill mutters his vague, navel-gazing lyrics, until they stumble to their ends, only to be followed by more of the same.

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