Soldier String Quartet

Inspect For Damaged Gods

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Recorded over the course of the mid- '90s, Inspect for Damaged Gods covers much of the avant-garde territory that the Soldier String Quartet's various incarnations are known for. The album starts out in a scratchy, twangy, old-time rendition of a Robert Johnson number, followed immediately with Bo Diddley's eponymous hit (which Soldier likely took to after a time touring with Diddley), redone in a loping rhythm and some more primitive sounds. Shifting over almost seamlessly into a smooth bit of gypsy jazz, Regina Carter takes the lead on a sweet version of "Here Comes the King." Tributes to friends and musicians Michael Callen and Susan Sontag take the tempo down a fair deal, moving through a chamber music format into a bit of a tango before a funky stringed cover of a Sly Stone piece. A bluesy piece follows, itself leading into a slowly swinging tribute to New Orleans. The album finishes on a collection of Indian proverbs and stories mixed with a nice line on the balofon and some basic bass and drum kit accompaniment that builds into a much larger sound by the end. Over the course of the album, the group manages to show off everything that a string quartet can possibly do, and a number of things that they never do. This quartet, maybe not as well-known as the Kronos Quartet, is somewhat more adventurous, and branches out into territories you won't hear a classical group in. Always worth a listen.

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