No-Neck Blues Band

Parallel Easters

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If you already know NNCK, you already have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Parallel Easters. And if you don't, you probably should start with a single studio CD like Intonomancy or Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones... instead of this double live set. Parallel Easters is typical NNCK: hypnotic, mantric, free, gripping, lulling, and at times a bit too meandering. Its best feature resides in the fact that it presents two different eras in the band's history. Both concerts were recorded on the Sunday after the first full moon in spring, one in 1999, the other four years later. Disc one consists of four tracks. The first three are rather short and very focused for NNCK tunes, "Weaving & Then Waving Straps" providing an excellent example of the kind of cautious psychedelic mayhem the band could achieve. The fourth piece, "Beyond the Edge the Carpet Cannot End At," is a 43-minute marathon. Here the band gets a little lost, but manages to keep the train on its tracks, mostly thanks to ever-changing rhythmic motives and a progressive conception of the piece that consistently seem to lead listeners from A to B to C, etc., despite the free-form aspect of the music. This does not happen in the 30-minute "Amortortak," the extended number of the 2003 concert. Here, the music loses most of its appeal past the ten-minute mark, as each musician chooses a different path. A foray into non-rhythmical improv leads to sluggish jamming and the regrouping in the last five minutes is not enough to recoup. It's a shame, because the other six pieces on disc two are simply wonderful, especially "An Exercise in Perception," "Mechel," and "Illirikum," the latter being one of the most focused attempts at tribal rock this band has yet recorded. In short, Parallel Easters is not the best place to start, but it's a good one to have.

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