Anyone who knows the difference between early Papa M and late Palace should also know about this darling of Cleveland's "post-rock" underground. Brian Straw's standard performance alternates between slow, soft singer-songwriter drones and bursts of manipulated electric guitar feedback, a combination that goes down like a glass of warm milk spiked with a spoonful of kitchen cleanser.
And yet this 45-minute live album mostly does away with the milk chaser, with four and a half cuts of guitar distortion, feedback, and strangled chaos. Get past the nails-on-chalkboard opening minutes, however, and the cleanser turns out to be less like Ajax than Bon Ami, the non-abrasive powder with a cute little picture of a newly hatched chick and the motto "Hasn't scratched yet!" Each noisy phase slowly gives birth to a logical structure, redolent with warm harmonic overtones. When Straw finally slips into a regular song, in the last half of track five ("Louisville, KY @ Artswatch 2/25/02"), it's not sweet relief -- it's bittersweet culmination.