Scott Tuma: Dandelion (CD, Digitalis, October 2010)

There are three distinct sessions to the expanded CD version of this album.

We start with the 9 tracks of the vinyl release, which mix Americana (banjo, fiddle, accordion, and so on) with an organic ambient sound (field recordings, tape treatments, and unidentifiable snippets and textures). It’s really very lovely, and quite moving: I felt that the traditional tunes seem delicate and lost in the dense humming of the ambience. It might not be too much of a stretch to read this as a metaphor for a tradition which is at risk of getting drowned out by the chaos of modernity. Or something.

Then comes the Intermission. After two minutes of actual silence, we get a twenty minute collage of crackling found sounds, much of it apparently 78s or ancient film sound tracks. We get dramatic flourishes of trumpets, snatches of romantic symphonies, and urgent pronouncements in a variety of European languages. Very different, but equally magical.

The final three tracks, called Smallpipes, are a return to the Americana of the first half. Here Tuma is joined by an actual band, and the gently melodic strumming is more to the fore — though it is still filtered and tweaked and given a top-dressing of ambience.

Any one of these sections would have been a treat. Have all three, fitting so well together, is simply fantastic.

I bought this from Boomkat. They call it Home Listening / Modern Classical / Ambient.

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