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Snapshots #8 - Dakota Suite, Sylvain Chauveau, Rivulets, Songs: Ohia, Scout Niblett, Silver Jews, St Thomas

Snapshots #8

Dakota Suite, Sylvain Chauveau, Rivulets, Songs: Ohia, Scout Niblett, Silver Jews, St Thomas

Ever since we discovered Dakota Suite with their compilation of eps named "Alone With Everybody", it's always been a delight for us to listen to a new album from these Englishmen. "The Way I Am Sick" shows the band's instrumental side again, which had already scared the hell out of us on "Navigator's Yard": repetitive tracks, with loops of piano as propellant. And as if that weren't already enough to satisfy us, this album comes with a second cd that compiles all the instrumental tracks taken from the band's previous albums (except for "Navigator's Yard" of course). If you'd like to move along to another cd without feeling totally disoriented, we urge you to discover "Nocturne Impalpable", the well-named album of France's Sylvain Chauveau which navigates through similar universe. Minimalist piano loops accompanied by a cello, a trumpet, an accordion... The only very big difference between Dakota Suite's instrumentals and those of Sylvain Chauveau is their length: the English like to stretch out their tracks whereas the Frenchman likes to cut them short after a couple of minutes. Going quietly faster, Rivulets remind us quite naturally of the genius of Low (particularly since Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk took part in this recording) but also of Mark Kozelek and Mojave 3... in a nutshell, the best that the world of slow introspective folk music has to offer. A male voice always on a razor edge, melodies in which the drums manage to turn our pulse down to the minimum... sheer delight! It was quite difficult to guess what fields Jason Molina would explore after his perfect latest album, "Ghost Tropic". On "Didn't It Rain", Songs: Ohia appears in the nude: forget the electronic loops, Molina is back with his progressively more impressive voice and a guitar that delivers sparse notes. Still, to sweeten this rough record that resembles the fellow's solo shows, he's appointed a fragile female voice as additional vocals. On the same label -- the already mythical Secretly Canadian --, here's Britain's young Scout Niblett, who will undeniably remind one of Catpower with her sensitive feminine folk music in which the voice feeds on rhythm breaks and hoarseness. We nearly missed the Silver Jews' new album, which would have been a great mistake as David Berman has gradually emerged from the Pavement envelope that stuck to him a little too tightly. He now plays at a more personal, stripped-down level to produce an album that will take many listens before we've visited all of its sinuous threatening lanes. To finish with, we absolutely must tackle the St Thomas case as this plump biting-humoured Viking has decided to take hold of Neil Young's acoustic idiosyncrasies to spawn a direct, enjoyable album. Haunting tunes and a voice that sounds more American than American voices... what more can we ask for?

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