The Ghost, the Elf, the Cat, and the Angel

The Iditarod

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The Ghost, the Elf, the Cat, and the Angel Review

by Richie Unterberger

Though they're from Rhode Island, the duo comprising Iditarod (Carin Wagner and Jeffrey Alexander) sound quite a bit like a British psychedelic-tinged folk or folk-rock act. Those enamored of the sound of vintage artists in that tributary, like Donovan, the Incredible String Band, and Pentangle -- and of more recent artists that obviously owe something to that style, like Robyn Hitchcock and (far more obscurely) Damien Youth -- might well be inclined to enjoy this record, though it's not explicitly imitative of any of those artists. While the music's often acoustic guitar-based, the pair play a pretty impressive range of instruments on this CD, from moog and wine glasses to tamboura, singing bowl, and chimes, with some other musicians adding touches on cello, recorder, bouzouki, and more. As the title indicates, there's a mythological-stroll-in-the-forest tinge to their approach, with some electronic effects and backwards-distorted guitar lines adding a bit of psychedelia, without ever submerging the essentially folky ambience. They may be mood-setters more than they are songwriters, but the mood's a good one: melancholy, subdued, and slightly eerie folk-rock, with quite a bit of varied texture, and an avoidance of the drone and monotony that afflict many other bands working similar territory. The vocals, as befits such material, are suitably fragile and wistful, if not exceptional, broken up by haunting instrumentals that have a touch of exotic (sometimes Indian) mystery.

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