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Twilight and Ghost Stories

Chris Schlarb

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Album Review

The result of four years spent recording, arranging, and mixing separate contributions from over 50 collaborators, Twilight & Ghost Stories is both a departure and familiar territory for Chris Schlarb. Though it is not the first solo album from the free-form/experimental I Heart Lung guitarist — he released Ideas Without Numbers under the stage name XN in 2005 — it is the first to bear his full name. It also bears an interesting premise: after setting up microphones to record the sound of a rain storm, Schlarb contacted other musicians, asking them to contribute pieces to what would become, in his words, "a composition that had no obvious center." The result is an experiment in sound rather than a traditional album. Twilight & Ghost Stories is a continuous piece consisting of nameless movements and numberless tracks. The emphasis on listening to the album as a whole allows it to work as either soothing background music or an exercise in focused listening. It's charming either way, though paying close attention yields surprises as new sounds are encountered — accordions, bassoons, electronic noises, voices, and what sounds like a heartbeat in utero are just a few of the things that appear at some point. Schlarb weaves these elements into the several short compositions that hold Twilight & Ghost Stories together, creating a dreamy atmosphere where defined melodies seem to form naturally out of the more disjointed interludes, as if Schlarb captured the piece on tape as a whole instead of assembling it in layers. It's abstract enough that it might not appeal to everyone, but for those with enough patience and curiosity, Twilight & Ghost Stories can be a fascinating experience.

Biography

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Though most frequently involved in free-form, free jazz, and experimental rock projects, Chris Schlarb does not have an easily defined career. Hailing from Southern California, Schlarb is a musician, writer, and producer, as well as the founder and owner of Sounds Are Active, a label specializing in progressive jazz, experimental, and electronic music. Schlarb is also a frequent collaborator, working with Sufjan Stevens, Ikie Owens, Lynn Johnston, and Castanets, among others. In 1999, Schlarb co-founded...
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Twilight and Ghost Stories, Chris Schlarb
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