Jonathan Badger: Verse (Cuneiform, 2014)

December 13, 2014 at 7:22 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Jonathan Badger: Verse

Jonathan Badger: Verse

Intriguing album of textural guitar pieces from an artist I’ve not heard of before. He loops, layers and transforms several electric and acoustic guitars, using computers to twist the sounds and create atmospheres, and generally create an orchestra out of relatively few instruments. There are contributions from musicians playing strings and horns, as well as vocalists, but Badger’s guitar playing and manipulations are center stage. There’s definitely some minimalist moments, and some parallels to Dustin Wong’s solo work, but Badger throws in a lot of curveballs and goes in unexpected directions. “The Bear” is a 2-minute raga drone-out with banjo and hand percussion, and it leads into the ambient-Pet Sounds reverie of “Nimbus”, with wordless vocals and gentle guitars, which get chopped up ecstatically in the middle of the song, in a way that reminds me a little of Dan Deacon. The song ends with some of the few lyrics on the album, about pestilence and drinking blood, but ending with the words “we are lucky.” “The Valley Of The Shadow” starts with shifting electronic sounds, and then eventually settles into a human beatbox rhythm, which gets electronically processed and delayed, along with guitars which also have layers of delay and gated effects on them. “Limbec” has a more relaxed post-rock-ish guitar melody, along with somewhat dramatic horns and strings, and some curious electronic beats and effects. “Bouge” uses tranquil yet urgent pianos over pitter-pattering electronic beats, and eventually chorus vocals come in. “Erbarmen” also alternates between pianos, guitar melodies and soft glitchy beats, for another slowly building (and slowly ending) piece. “Sickle’s Compass Come” ends the album on the slow, piano-driven note it’s been going on, this time with more dramatic horns, which get diced up a bit electronically. A really hard to define album which goes off in a few different directions and shows off several sides to this composer in its relatively short runtime (under 40 minutes). Curious to hear more from him.

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