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June 17th, 2009 WW MUSIC STAFF | Music Stories
 

CD Reviews: Ilyas Ahmed and Legend of Dutch Savage

     
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Ilyas Ahmed Goner


(Root Strata)

[EXPERIMENTAL] The blurry bio of Pakistan-born outsider musician Ilyas Ahmed—who bounced around the country before landing in Portland—is as perplexing as the moody clutch of CD-Rs and small-label releases on which his music can be found. That lost sound—hypnotic Fahey/Basho-cycles on druggy Spacemen 3 trips—has been described by Scottish critic David Keenan as “Gone.”

The gone sound returns on Ahmed’s latest effort, titled, appropriately enough, Goner. On the disc, the hushed acoustics of Ahmed’s previous affairs are replaced by blown-out guitars and buzzing bass. But it’s beneath the plugged-in bluster the musician’s trademark spectral sounds still lurk—cycled through drone-level compositions that revel in a purgatorial middle world between weird rooms and long nights.

Ahmed croons unintelligibly in near-falsetto, fluttering and floating like a mist above the din. On “Out Again,” brittle guitars layer themselves in shamanic shambles, bringing to mind the more claustrophobic side of Six Organs of Admittance. The album’s closing send-off, “Exit Twilight,” is a haunted duet with local experimental artist Liz Harris (Grouper) that gently takes the listener right out of the album and into the unknown. Whether you find yourself in that mysterious twilight or a well-lit room, be forewarned: It’s later than it seems. ERIK BADER.


Legend of Dutch Savage self-titled


(Self-Released)

[STILL-TRUCKIN’ HEAVIES] Rarely does a record lead off with its weakest track, but Legend of Dutch Savage opens its self-titled album with its worst foot forward. “Godz Eyes” is a thick, whiny slab of overdriven guitars that never quite meshes with the band’s more populist sound.

Fortunately, the rest fares much better. Throughout the album’s 42 minutes, Legend of Dutch Savage—a group of Northwest rock vets made up of former members of Jr. High and Iommi Stubbs, to name a few highlights—fights between heavy, riff-driven rawk and a more melodic approach to alt-rock. The disc’s middle section is particularly impressive, with standout“Shot Down” sounding like vintage, near-poppy Heatmiser, and “Skyscraper Land” gliding along like Mag Earwhig-era Guided by Voices.

Though Legend of Dutch Savage is certainly indebted to acts like the aforementioned Heatmiser and the Wrens, its songs aren’t merely carbon copies of influences; instead, the band’s best tracks prove that a long lifetime of kicking around the dirt can still produce solid results. The power-pop influence of Blue Skies For Black Hearts’ Pat Kearns (who recorded the disc) is heard on “Lions Eyes,” and the album’s final track, “Something Wrong,” finishes the record with chiming guitars and a story of growing up too soon. Too bad that’s not the first track. MICHAEL MANNHEIMER.


SEE IT: Ilyas Ahmed plays Valentine’s on Monday, June 22. 9 pm. Donation. 21+. The Legend of Dutch Savage plays its last Portland show at the Tonic Lounge on Friday, June 19. 9 pm. $6. 21+.
 
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