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Man on Stilts

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Album Review

With the emergence in the 1990s and 2000s of Scenic, Friends of Dean Martinez, Vivid Low Sky (the last of whom, like Shark Quest, are also from Chapel Hill), and now Shark Quest, there seems to be a mini-vogue for instrumental indie rock with a cinematic, desert-sweeping grandeur. This mine-genre is so small (and probably unlucrative) that it's impossible to accuse Shark Quest of bandwagon jumping. Nonetheless, for those familiar with the other acts named above, they'll spark unavoidable comparisons. Not so much to Vivid Low Sky (who, despite sharing the same hometown, have a harsher and more dissonant rock aesthetic) as to Friends of Dean Martinez, in the bent for twanging guitars and a certain Southwestern border feel. With both Friends of Dean Martinez and Scenic, there's an affinity with the soundtrack drama of Ennio Morricone. What, then, makes Shark Quest stand apart? It could be that they're more eclectic than any of those other groups, particularly via the folk influence added by Sara Bell's mandolin and banjo. There are unexpected sounds such as the "Shaft-like guitar on "Crazy Laura," and the classical cello on "Kell." The compositions and melodies are moody and haunting, the tempos and instrumentally varied. It's still more suitable for ambient diversion than foreground excitement, but it's a nicely done, decently imaginative recording.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Chapel Hill, NC, quintet Shark Quest plays eclectic instrumental rock geared toward the alternative market. Their music draws from atmospheric soundtrack music (Ennio Morricone being one likely overused reference point), folk music, desert twang, and bits of other genres. Although pretty guitar-oriented, they also employ banjo and mandolin (played by Sara Bell), as well as occasional cello, keyboards, and vibes. Their debut Battle of the Loons was released in 1998. Their...
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Man on Stilts, Shark Quest
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