I recently made the case that Steve Gunn is best when he’s acoustic. I’d like to enter into evidence this little gem of a collaboration with Mike Gangloff (of Pelt and the Black Twig Pickers). The two share an interest in both Appalachian and Indian music, and on this record sees them spending a night in a barn in Virginia improvising on 6- and 12-string guitars, gongs, tanpura, singing bowls, shruti box, and “the banjo Gangloff sometimes plays at monthly square dances at a country store just up the road” (as the label helpfully tells us). Now, you’d be forgiven for suspecting that this is all god-awful hipster-bait… but you’d be wrong, ‘cos this is just ace. The music is at once swirlingly hypnotic and catchily melodic, and it somehow manages to balance the comfortingly familiar and the intriguingly strange in a way that seems utterly natural. I’m at a loss to explain exactly why I find the sound they create so pleasing. All I can say is that if you’ve ever heard the questing tone of a slide guitar, and thought that what it really needed in response was the quiet finality of a nice gong, then this is the record for you. I don’t think I had ever thought that until I heard it, but now that I have, I believe it fervently.
I bought this from Juno. They call it Rock, which says more about their genre dropdown than about this record.