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Music Review: Arthur Nasson – Echo Garden

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Do art house films appeal to you? How about experimental movies? Would you rather watch Blow Up, The Last Tango in Paris, and Eraserhead or do your tastes run more towards Jurassic Park, Three Weddings and a Funeral, and Toy Story?  Arthur Nasson has written, performed and produced an album that has elements of several genres and treats them in both traditional and non-traditional manners. With the exception of several tracks where his sons join him on several instruments, Nasson does it all himself.

Arthur Nasson

Echo Garden is Nasson’s use of artistry and experimentation to create a listening experience in which as Nasson says, listeners “could get lost in a world of sound and imagination. For years I have been trying to figure out how to present an album that hinted at these broader, disparate musical interests, that was still cohesive and fulfilling to listen to.”  He has divided his project into three parts, or “Suites” that take the listener on a trip not unlike the one astronauts took in 2001: A Space Odyssey sans the visuals.  While you may not become a child of the universe as in the movie, you can definitely get “back to the garden”.

I tried listening to this CD on the way to work and it didn’t work.  It was better for me at home, relaxing in my recliner, volume high enough where the sound is just there — no need to strain to hear it.  Let the music surround you and transport you.  An excellent communicator can make you feel the same way they felt when they created what you are hearing, whether it’s a joke, an emotional story, or a unique musical journey.  Nasson succeeds with a raw, gritty low-fi production that has the edge to keep you hooked.  Listen to what this man is telling you.

In Part One, the hook begins with track two, a uptempo rock beat, “Bounce”.  Rock riffs continue on a visit to “The Other Side”.  With lyrics “Like a tiger in the sun, You can make a lunch of anyone.” it’s clear that something is coming for which you should prepare. The last track in part one is “Psych Ward” and conjures up visions of Dali’s Un chien andalou (directed by Luis Bunuel).  A ragtime piano eventually dissolves into seemingly random chords.  I can just imagine a razor blade slicing through an eyeball!

Part Two includes six tracks that feature electronic sounds, vocal harmonies and are generally synthesized experimental pieces.  This is not groundbreaking as this reviewer has heard similar work on the soundtracks to 2001: A Space Odyssey and Twin Peaks — “Lux Aeterna”, “Atmospheres” and “Night Life in Twin Peaks”, respectively. Kubrick used choirs and Lynch recorded “industrial” sounds.

Part Three is where Nasson and sons hit their stride and bring it all home.  Three of the last five tracks re-assemble all the individual elements examined in previous tracks for a fitting and satisfying conclusion. Track 15,  “Drag” is a feel good doo-wop piece and “Echo Garden” concludes the CD with it’s most mellow incarnation (of three on the album) and becomes an uplifting inspiration.

Echo Garden is being released by Philistine Records on October 5, 2010.  Let the sound take you away.

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