Dusted Reviews

Black Forest / Black Sea - Radiant Symmetry

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Black Forest / Black Sea

Album: Radiant Symmetry

Label: Last Visible Dog

Review date: Sep. 29, 2004

Black Forest/Black Sea are Providence, Road Island duo Miriam Goldberg and Jeffrey Alexander. Both were previously members of acid-folk group The Iditarod, whose music felt decidedly Old Worldly, referencing the likes of Pentangle, Fairport Convention and Trees to create their own take on traditional Anglo forms. What sets apart Black Forest/Black Sea from The Iditarod’s songbook is their willingness to introduce certain aspects of improvisation and free music to the mix, both as catalyst to generate ideas and as an end to itself.

Radiant Symmetry is the group’s third full length album, which documents shows and improv sessions from the pair’s recent European tour when they were joined by fellow folk distortionists, most notably Daniel Padden from Volcano the Bear and The One Ensemble of Daniel Padden.

The first piece, which would appear to be called Tchai-Ovna Tearoom, Glasgow, Scotland (all tracks are similarly named after the site of their performance), shows the group taking its new methodology to its limits, with an ambling, stumbling, shuffling creature that occupies similar atonal terrain to the No-Neck Blues Band and their weird beatnik brethren. From then on, the band relaxes into a more familiar mix of British folk and Americana, with traditional instrumentation such as banjo and guitar moving down musical paths previously explored by the duo’s previous band. At times, Goldberg’s cello overwhelms proceedings to mimic a primitive chamber music, which, at its very best, recalls the neo-classicism of groups like Rachel’s and the Boxhead Ensemble, as Alexander’s guitar weaves subtle web-like structures behind the bowed strings.

The final track is where the disparate elements of Black Forest/Black Sea come together most successfully. Deep resonances of cello and harmonium are accompanied by Fahey-like bottleneck playing, then further mangled by effect pedals to sound like all the colors of Eyvind Kang’s golden violin performing a duet with a Javan gamelan ensemble. Meanwhile, Goldberg’s wordless vocals hangs in the air like a rain cloud about to burst, but forever without release.

By Spencer Grady

Other Reviews of Black Forest / Black Sea

Black Forest / Black Sea

Read More

View all articles by Spencer Grady

Find out more about Last Visible Dog

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.