Various Artists

Songs in the Key of Z: The Curious Universe of Outsider Music

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The companion piece to the wonderfully and lovingly compiled Songs in the Key of Z, this second volume by outsider music historian Irwin Chusid may feature artists whose names and talents are even more obscure than those on the previous collection but whose skills are arguably no less bizarre. Just as gloriously self-unaware as the artists compiled on the original, here Chusid introduces us to the oddball stylings of Eddie Murray and his silly jazz show tune "Stepping High Dance," Bob Vido and his wildly unfettered faux-one man band workout on "High Speed," and Thoth's yelping quasi-performance art in "The Herma, Scene 5: Recitation/An." For good measure, Chusid offers second helpings of Volume 1 standouts such as "The Human Horn" Shooby Taylor, Congress-Woman Malinda Jackson Parker (here with a follow-up to her "Cousin Mosquito #1" with the appropriately titled, though drastically different, "Cousin Mosquito #2"), beautifully naïve piano balladeer B.J. Snowden, and the hilariously earnest Luie Luie and his fourteen trumpets. No doubt, the collection walks the line between novelty, comedy, and embarrassing sincerity, but the genuineness and naturalness of the performances never fail to prove themselves memorable on some level. What's even more unexpected is the ability of the songs to elicit repeated listens, whether in trying to decode the inexplicable logic in the songwriting or for their sheer addictive nuttery. Overall, this set might be a bit anti-climatic following on the heels of the unqualified success of the first volume, but those who find themselves put off by the polish and studied calculation of modern music should find a powerful antidote on Songs in the Key of Z Vol. 2.

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