Boxhead Ensemble

Two Brothers

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AllMusic Review by

Moving from the outer reaches of his exploration of sonic landscapes in the soundtrack realm, Boxhead Ensemble boss man Michael Krassner has assembled an ensemble for this recording that looks deeply at the various forms that constitute song -- particularly American song -- and has turned them in on themselves. Featuring a cast that includes regulars like cellist and nyckelharpa king Fred Lonberg-Holm, former Souled American guitarist and frontman Scott Tuma, Dirty Three skin wizard Jim White and guitarist Mick Turner, Argentinian composer and reedist Guillermo Gregorio, Will Oldham, violist and trumpeter David Curry from the Willard Grant Conspiracy, and the Lofty Pillars' guitarist Joe Ferguson, along with guest Jeff Tweedy from Wilco and others, this edition of the Boxheads is the most cohesive and mysterious to date. From the shimmering, bowed-string melodies of "Still," where each bar opens the center of the song to more instruments before it hushes them away, to "The Half Light," where spare frames offered by guitars and percussion create a foreground for elemental sonics to enter quietly into the mix and hover there, floating tensely yet nearly imperceptibly as Gregorio plays a "lyric" that touches on the infinite, the entire recording is a masterful, almost painterly work of subdued tonalities, spare, fragile utterances, and a restrained yet indisputable beauty. There is no genre whatsoever to place this music in except for a category called utterly beautiful. Krassner's Boxhead Ensemble offers music as song in the place of song as hype or as an island unto itself. This is brilliant work.

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