Kyle Dawkins

Walls Became the World

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For his second solo album, Kyle Dawkins went for a fuller studio sound. The pieces on Conasauga consisted mostly of one- or two-part acoustic guitars. The arrangements on Walls Became the World are much more developed and include piano, percussion, and treated voices, along with various samples and textures. The album is entirely instrumental (except for the occasional whisper) and, as on the first disc, blends simple melodies and elaborate structures. Listeners already knew Dawkins was a seriously gifted guitar player and wrote fine guitar pieces; this album showcases him as a composer and studio critter. The result is unexpected and in a category of its own, as the music falls somewhere between American folk guitar, the post-rock ethos, the carefree pastoral quality of Scandinavian folk, experimental music (the textures in "The Hatching Ground" or the use of field recordings and deconstruction/recomposition in "Sightings," for instance), and a certain Zappa-esque quirkiness. Pieces like "Everyday (This Happens to You)" and "A New Place" have instantly hummable passages framed within complex compositions that cover a lot of ground in the few minutes they last. This may all sound very demanding to the listener, but it's not. The first eight pieces of the album go down admirably well. "The Hatching Ground" and "Sightings" -- the more difficult numbers -- are tucked at the end of the track list, just before a bonus track hidden at the end of the last piece, in which Dawkins pays tribute to a few Black Banjo Songsters of North Carolina and Virginia (as goes the title of the Smithsonian Folkways collection the samples are taken from).

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