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Pachora's second release reveals the quartet becoming quite comfortable with its engaging blend of Mediterranean and Eastern European folk styles filtered through the edgy New York downtown aesthetic, and there is even a bit more assurance in some of the performances. Clarinetist Chris Speed simultaneously encompasses both joy and sadness in his nimble melodies and improvisations, while Brad Shepik extends his own mastery from the electric saz to the equally exotic tamboura, banjar, and tres; the two musicians link up and literally fly through the unison themes of tracks like "Dratch," "Kaponata," and "Laz." Meanwhile, percussionist Jim Black continues to astound from start to finish and bassist Skuli Sverrisson knows exactly when to kick a tune into high gear and give your woofers a workout. There are flirtations with new hybrid forms here and there (a bit of acerbic jazz chording is introduced into the ballad "Invocation," and "Prevezaniko Syrto" begins with a bit of free improv), but Unn doesn't really strike out from the group's eponymous debut into markedly new territory. Not really a problem with music this strong, unless you think "progressive" musicians like this foursome must always progress, and can never remain in the same place for even a moment. Yet when the absolutely stunning Ast was released in 2000, Unn paled in comparison. It now seems an admirable sophomore outing along the pathway to Ast, Pachora's finest release to date and one of the best CDs of the entire New York downtown scene.

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