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Album Review

Exodust is the beautiful musical evocation of a page of Americana. The period is the 1930s and the location Arkansas, where dust storms push some of the poor (and thus unsuitably sheltered) families to move to California, the new Eden. The 14 tracks on this album form an uninterrupted piece. Environmental recordings and electronics wrap up a slow-changing bed of loops consisting of simple folk guitar lines, banjo, accordion, and voices (both singing and reciting). The loops are repeated over long durations, appearing and disappearing so as to create a picture that changes slowly with time. It resembles the osmosis effect in Terry Riley's "In C" and in fact owes much to American minimalists (Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass) in terms of structure. Yet, the piece sounds nothing like their works — one could argue it stands closer to Z'eV's narrative-like collages than to Reich's cycling patterns. Kiefer scavenged through the Charles L. Tood and Robert Sonkin collections at the Library of Congress, looking for songs and stories by the protagonists. Their narrative, along with creaking chairs, fiddles, singing, etc., establish a strong American folk atmosphere. Where Kiefer's artistry shines is in how his own themes adopt the simplicity of his subject, creating an integrated narrative of its own. The album's slow pace can feel like a burden at times, and in truth there are overlong passages and overused elements (a whistled three-note theme, in particular), but in the end it makes for a captivating listen. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Exodust, Christian Kiefer
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