Disclaimer: Before I begin this review, I must disclose my personal dislike of so called ‘American Primitive’, or ‘Takoma School’ guitar styles. I have never been able to generate any enthusiasm over this style (being more a fan of their rough hewn precursors) so a lot of what I have to say about Talk West will be colored by this personal ‘quirk’.
Talk West is primarily the work of Dylan Golden Aycock, who is clearly an acoustic guitarist of some facility. For me, there is a feeling that the acoustic guitar is the only aspect of this music that has really been properly considered. The other aspects that occasionally make their way into the mix seem mostly to be after thoughts added to keep some variety between respective tracks (though there is one notable exception in ‘Shapeless Tathagata’)
The opening track ‘Heavenly Farm’ begins with a repeatedly bent guitar note and segues into a finger picked acoustic guitar piece augmented by what sounds like a treated pedal steel. It’s quiet pretty, and seems to bode well.
Unfortunately (for me at least) the tape then settles into a run of acoustic guitar pieces of various fidelity. ‘Dead don’t rise from dirt’ is a lot more interesting, as the Fahey/Kottke worship is tweaked by being distorted and delayed to bring different overtones shooting out of the mix. Unfortunately, it is then interrupted by drum machine and ham fisted synth noodling that seems totally at odds with what has come before.
Things improve significantly with ‘Adrift’, which features a pretty severely treated guitar, the plucking of strings begins to resemble the sounds that are generated by African percussion. It is an interesting development from the previous tracks with nice pedal steel tag, and could of gone on much longer.
The last track ‘Shapeless Tathagata’ (my favorite track on the tape) is an electronics/synth piece with a simple, repetitive melodic line. Guitar emerges low in the mix in places, and in this capacity it is a nice counterpoint. I could have listened to many more tracks like this. The overdub of what sounds like fireworks going off ( but is probably just treated percussion) is a nice touch too
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