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May 18th, 2011 ROBERT HAM | Album Reviews
 

Album Review: Ash Black Bufflo

Andasol (Knitting Factory Records)

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[CINEMATIC POST-ROCK] Local music obsessives who pore over the liner notes of their LPs and CDs will probably recognize the name of Jay Clarke. Since moving to Portland, he has been a member of the long-lamented post-rock outfit the Standard, helped form Dolorean with Al James and logged time onstage with folks like Grails and Holy Sons. 

Along the way, Clarke has carved a niche as a creator of soundtracks for theater and dance productions as well as for film (his work under his stage name Ash Black Bufflo forms the backdrop of the award-winning documentary Marwencol). That same spirit of stirring up emotions and encapsulating a narrative into a piece of music has been carried over on to Andasol, Clarke’s first solo album. The multi-instrumentalist imbues the 18 tracks here with a wealth of feeling, both melancholy and ebullient.

Clarke has said that the songs here are something of a sonic spirit cleanse, allowing him to wrestle with the lingering emotions of childhood and family he was looking to sort through as he and his wife prepared to have their first child.

With that idea in mind, the songs, even during the most fractured and discordant moments, have a full beating heart at their center. It’s hard to hear the plaintive guitar and xylophone melody of “Tulsa Slut” or the lost-in-the-ether piano of the title track (a reference to the street where Clarke grew up) without it dredging up your own stockpile of yellowing memories.


HEAR IT: This album will be available at finer Portland record stores Tuesday, May 24.

 
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