In Your Time

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Danny Bensi, Saunder Jurriaans, and Gregory Rogove, the three members of Priestbird, were calling themselves Tarantula A.D. only two years ago when they released Book of Sand. That would make In Your Time their sophomore album rather than a debut, except that they have changed in the interim, notably by adding vocals. In Your Time also has the feel of a first album, however, in the sense that it seems intended to showcase the band's range of talents, even at the risk of coming off somewhat scattered. By whatever band name they employ, multi-instrumentalists Bensi, Jurriaans, and Rogove are nothing if not eclectic, and their music never sounds like any one thing for long. Generally speaking, the songs on In Your Time are inclined more toward rock -- hard rock, in fact -- early on, while things get much calmer in the last half. But even when there is a guitar riffing on a power chord and the drums are pounding, the arrangement may call for a sudden shift to acoustic piano, or one of Bensi's string instruments, violin or cello, may be heard. The effect is a little like switching back and forth between a radio station playing classical chamber music and one doing a Black Sabbath marathon. Then there's "Jackyl," the seventh of 11 tracks, an acoustic guitar instrumental that wouldn't be out of place on a Leo Kottke album, followed by "Last to Know," which sounds like one of those Indian-influenced songs one might hear on a psychedelic rock album in the late '60s. Although most of the songs have vocals, they tend to be breathy and restrained, the lyrics either impressionistic or simply repeated incantations. It may be symptomatic of the trio's approach to music that they had trouble settling on a name; even if you know what to call them, it's hard to know what to call their work. As it is, they seem like a bunch of different kinds of musicians co-existing on the same disc rather than a coherent ensemble, and that's no doubt deliberate.

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