Marcus Horth

Om Sweet Aum

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Marcus Horth has a beautiful voice -- it would sound great on the radio or under a window. Despite this and the success of this CD's final track, "All the Time," he may even have more potential as an instrumentalist. Fans of artists such as John Fahey or Robbie Basho will find some of the pieces Horth has created tremendously appealing. The recording of instruments such as his acoustic 12-string guitar is wonderfully natural, while the addition of Indian music motifs and what sounds like an actual sitar reveals not only courage but a real feeling for this tremendously deep genre."Harappa" is much more than someone just wiping their boots on a raga rug. The Indian influence also ties in nicely with a comparison that this performer -- a resident of Greensboro, NC, whose family background is British -- must surely be sick of. It might spare the poor fellow further aggravation if names are not mentioned directly, but once upon a time in rock history there was a group of commanding popularity who decided to look east for inspiration and spiritual direction. This indirectly led to sitars on country and western records, among other socially uplifting phenomena.

The CD title of Om Sweet Aum may attract listeners sympathetic to the notion that the atmosphere of the previously described era is sorely missed. Creators of guitar music such as Fahey and Basho were hardly publicized as much as the rockers who dilly-dallied with gurus but were inevitably more important in bringing together forces as distant as raga and ragtime, as Horth himself does as "Harappa" comes to its whimsical conclusion. Vocalizing and songs with lyrics do seem to be a bit more of Horth's focus, at least on this collection of ten pieces in which in practically all cases all the parts are played by the man himself. "Wavelength" opens the collection with a singing burst of delicate strength, a series of memorable melodic gestures that are actually the first examples of Indian classical music integrating Horth's compositions. Recording buddy Will Ammons comes up with lots of guitar gravy from the electric kitchen as well as acoustic. The lightness of Horth's guitar as "Romantic Confusion" begins is an ear-opener. If anything implodes it might be the multi-tracked vocals, although this is hardly to suggest gaffes along the lines of a live Linda McCartney. Pitch is quite reliable; it is more a case of excessive production at points where the decision to overdub was made.

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