Richard Youngs - Autumn Response (Jagjaguwar)
Sandro Perri - Tiny Mirrors (Constellation)
Richard Youngs is just the best. He is, on one hand, the classic experimentalist, looking for some new avenue to explore, working a vein to exhaustion. On the other, he is a master of taste and restraint. The folkier side of his work (Richard Youngs wears many hats) has a currently unmatched tranquility to them, as exemplified on his latest Autumn Response. Here he employs the simplest of techniques: a delicate nylon guitar and his voice strained to its higher register, run through what sounds like a tape delay with someone playing with the length setting, where the echoes go from reverberation to becoming a round. It is the kind of thing you do when you first get a delay pedal, but somehow in Youngs’ deft hands, it becomes genius. “One Hundred Horses” is a plainsong canticle about horses running through the water, but with ebb and flow of echoes, it becomes a stampede on second and dissipates the next.
Sandro Perri takes a different approach to his tranquility. He takes the song as it sits and slowly plucks down from it, reveals some bare flesh on spots, and covers others with brocade and lace, essentially pulling a song apart in all possible directions at the limit of its reconcilability. It’s a beautiful thing. “Family Tree” has a base as smooth as Midnight at the Oasis” and remains that smoothness even as it is stretched into a near amorphous bossa nova. It is dream music of the highest order. “City of Museums” does the same kind of refactoring job on a folk melody, letting the chords fall apart into disparate notes and then pulls them back together as he croons lightly and whistles overhead.