Eric Dahlman

Ripped Echo

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If you've got a yen for the kind of albums that record stores file under "other" after throwing up their hands in frustration trying to figure out how to even vaguely classify it, Eric Dahlman's Ripped Echo might have your name written on it. Dahlman plays trumpet more than any other instrument, but also handles flugelhorn, Tibetan bell, hunting horn, "pinecones," harps, flute, whirling drum, and numerous other instruments over the course of the CD. He's just one of the participants, however, in a mix also including various other musicians on quite a few other instruments, from violin and bass to lobster pot, accordion, water dipped gongs, lap steel guitar, mandolin, throat singing, and electronics. As to what his style is, that's hard to say, both because he combines and echoes so many forms, and because those forms and styles change considerably from track to track. Very, very broadly speaking, he's working in the fields merging jazz and contemporary composition, though the traces of Miles Davis, Jon Hassell, and Louis Armstrong quickly give way to or get mixed into stormy ambient passages. Usually somber in mood, there are also meditative reflections of non-Western world music, exotica, ritualistic chanting, and even brief oddball tunes with sung lyrics and female vocalists. In those senses it's a dreamscape in not following any set patterns or conventional logic in its progression, but one that -- unlike many consciously eclectic, largely instrumental soundscapes -- owes absolutely nothing to new age music. The tone is far more unsettled and vaguely uneasy than soothing, though rarely noisy. And to hurl a further wrench into the mix, there's a genuinely hoedown folk tune ("Dark Matter") thrown into the program near the end of the disc that would be more at home on a Holy Modal Rounders record than this one. Owing to its indefinably eclectic territory, this might be an easier record to admire than to warm to. But for a small-label release, it's a mighty impressive effort, both for its ambition and the high level of production and performance.

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