CD Review: SONGS OF THE VOLCANO (Bob Brozman and Papua New Guinea Stringbands) - THE WIRE, December-05
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SONGS OF THE VOLCANO (Bob Brozman and Papua New Guinea Stringbands)

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SONGS OF THE VOLCANO

CD Review: SONGS OF THE VOLCANO

THE WIRE
December 2005

Songs of the Volcano
Untainted Guitars of Papua New Guinea


By RICHARD HENDERSON


Given the assertive, fundamentally show business types who have made their names as professional collaborators with 'world' musicians, slide guitarist Bob Brozman has always stood apart from the East-meets-West gang, probably owing to the adaptable, nearly self-effacing character of his playing. The notes to this collection of stringbands from Papua New Guinea stress that Brozman is present as merely an ensemble player, not a collaborator. Still, his National steel is in the mix from the beginning of the Alir Pukai Stringband's "Alir Pukai" onwards; his is never less than a welcome additive, the style of extended, silvery pitch bending Brozman cultivated in the company of Hawaii's Tau Moe Family fitting perfectly amidst the moiré patterns generated by massed acoustic guitar strumming. The Gilnata Stringband's "Youth Development Song" sounds Hawaiian, too, in its melody and Tahitian in the arrangement of its choral voices. The album contains several such prompts to consider the skein of cultural connections stretching across the Pacific ocean. Whispers of other Brozman projects on other islands – Okinawa or La Réunion — inform the proceedings, but these tracks stand as unique. Should the thought of a gentler version of Rhys Chatham's '70s guitar ensembles playing in fractured waltz time under palm trees prove enticing, Songs of the Volcano takes that dream and runs all the way to the bank with it.

Bob Brozman - King of the National Guitar


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