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Via St. Louis

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Album Review

A home-recorded duo album by Jason Bill (formerly of Charalambides) and Jack Rose (leader of the Virginia improv trio Pelt), 1998's Via St. Louis sounds, unsurprisingly, like a mixture of elements from both bands. Pelt's raga-based drones and Charalambides' love of feedback and distortion come together on the 11-minute opener, "Revolution of the Stars," but the remaining six tracks wisely apply these ideas to a variety of instruments and moods, from the skronking clarinet solo "Heat of the Bells" to the wave-like ebb and flow of a pair of slide guitars on "Sting of the Yellow Jackets." The best track is probably the chilling violin and acoustic guitar duet "You Are Not of My People," which sounds like the New Zealand experimentalist Alastair Galbraith at his most doomy and foreboding. Much less samey and shapeless than most instrumental improvisations, Via St. Louis is well worth checking out.


Born: 16 February 1971 in Virginia

Genre: Alternative

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

An inventive and self-taught player on acoustic six-string, 12-string, and lap steel guitar, Jack Rose was considered part of the so-called Takoma revivalist movement that echoes the often Eastern-tinged acoustic guitar experiments of John Fahey, Robbie Basho, and others, although Rose got his start as a musician in an entirely different direction, first as a rock and punk-inspired electric guitarist in the Richmond, VA, drone trio Pelt. Pelt released a series of albums beginning in 1995, but while...
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