Music » CD Reviews

Big Blood

Discs nos. 1-7 (Dontrustheruin)

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This duo from Portland, Maine, has dropped seven discs in the past 12 months! Apparently, the group's muse snorts a ton of meth before commanding Colleen Kinsella and Caleb Mulkerin to explore everything from chamber popera to Asian folk music to cosmic Appalachia. Some of it, meanwhile, like "Shrining Light" -- off disc no. 5 -- can only be tagged elfin-pop for underground dinner-theater.

As with many artists totally throttled by raw inspiration, no tidily packaged aesthetic emerges over the course of these six records -- just a wildly psychedelic mishmash of songs, ideas, and experiments, varying in quality from interesting to deeply moving. Most of the time, Kinsella and Mulkerin sound as if they're stumbling across brand-new forms of American folk music -- styles that not only make peace with other cultures but employ a wealth of instrumentation: organ, accordion, harmonica, guitar, exotic percussion, and so on. But Big Blood's greatest achievement has been the reconciliation of indie-pop's post-VU fascination with primitive, four-track recording techniques and formal musicianship. Kinsella is a trained singer -- a great one, with a mind-blowing range, in fact. And when she feeds it -- as well as all those instruments -- through layers of subtle distortion and ghostly reverb, the results are downright alchemical.

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