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CD: Justin Adams featuring Anneli Drecker - Ribbons | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Justin Adams featuring Anneli Drecker - Ribbons

CD: Justin Adams featuring Anneli Drecker - Ribbons

The producer and guitarist’s first solo for 16 years is a journey out of darkness

A tune in to tune out kind of album

Rarely has an album’s artwork better reflected its content: blackness, or the void from which light occasionally emanates. This is a collection of instrumentals enhanced by vocals, rather than what might be called songs. The opening minimalist piece “Lightshaft” begins with a single plucked guitar note and its long vibrato-laden after-echo, like the sonic equivalent of a lone flickering candle. Norwegian singer Anneli Drecker’s haunting contributions can’t be described as lead vocals because they are no more or less significant than any other texture on the record.

This is only the former Tinariwen producer and Robert Plant sideman’s second solo album (the first being 2001’s Desert Road) yet we're not in grand comeback statement territory. Each track feels like a modest work in progress, the sonic equivalent of a loose charcoal sketch, which is in keeping with Adams's statement that one of his inspirations was Abstract Expressionist artists such as Rauschenberg, Pollock and Motherwell. But what’s most refreshing here is the absence of that staple ingredient for most rock musicians – the drum kit. There’s no hammered snare or staccato tish-tish-tishing of hi-hat cymbals here, just the felt rather than heard heartbeat of frame drums and the clicks, dings and buzzes of African bells, metal castanets and other percussion instruments, often indistinguishable from the hypnotically loping guitars.

This is the blues reinterpreted as a metaphor for the deep blues of deep space and deep oceans. If Tinariwen made an ambient album or Eno took Fripp with him went back to the Bush of Ghosts, the end results might not be too dissimilar from what Adams has lovingly crafted here. In summation, Ribbons is a tune in to tune out kind of record. You’ll drift, float and soar with no reassuring choruses or middle eights to anchor you or help you get back to land, unless Drecker’s ethereal voice calling from some other faraway place can function as your compass.

@HowardIanMale

The blues reinterpreted as a metaphor for the deep blues of deep space and deep oceans

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Average: 4 (1 vote)

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