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Theo Angell and the Tabernacle Hillside Singers

Auraplinth

(Digitalis Industries; US: 31 Oct 2007; UK: Available as import)

Break on through to the other side

Strange and beautiful folk/blues songs are twisted and stretched, slowed and quickened, layered with lucid sunshine and wrapped in murky mystery here on Theo Angell’s latest solo album, showcasing the death-obsessed weirdness and latent eccentricity at the bottom of all traditionally-based music. Unlike his last, Dearly Beloved, Auraplinth contains no caffeinated banjo romps, but rather a series of ghostly meditations on love, death, nature and the supernatural. Harmonies brush each other softly in surreal dissonance and sudden accord—that’s thanks to Angell’s Tabernacle Hillside Singers, namely Cynthia Nelson, Dan Brown (like Angell ex-Hall of Fame) and Josh Stevenson—and Angell’s own voice flits from nasal falsetto Appalachianisms to deep blues soaked tones. “Have U Seen the Birds Lately” has a spectral, chilling shimmer to it, the high whine of chorus in another space altogether from the rueful simplicity of the verse. And “Flurdid” is the oddest cut of all, whispery moans and throat-singing oddities paced by a stone-aged funeral drum. Plinth, you might want to know, is what you call the foundation under a column; aura is the indefinable, invisible energy that all life carries with it.  Ancient foundations, ineffable spirituality.. .sounds just about right to me.

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Theo Angell & Friends Live at Glasslands on Sept. 11, 2007
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