David Thomas Broughton The Complete Guide to Insufficiency

[Plug Research; 2005]

Rating: 4.5/5

Styles: folk, experimental, drone, minimalism
Others: Nick Drake, Antony and the Johnsons, Gastr Del Sol, Aerial M

Easy as a blink, but queasy as you pleasey. The lyrics are either intriguingly off-putting stream of consciousness (piss-shit-bowels is sung as plaintively as love-forever-heavens) or a righteous embrace of folk traditions (the old-as-dirt sounding "Unmarked Grave"). The voice is full-bodied, even when it's buried in a reverb-soaked vacuum. The tracks are driven in much the same deconstructive fashion as Terry Riley's mesmerizing "You're No Good." It's the sound of infinite abyss, slowly drawing in the corners of the coffee house performance space and amassing in a fat bead of plummet.

The Complete Guide to Insufficiency is basically flawless. It could easily be one track with five parts; the tracks blend together so seamlessly that skipping around would just kill the experience. When the guitar hits a wrong note or its strings grind on the frets, the immediacy of the atmosphere is only strengthened. One can have a difficult time with this sort of work, or one can let go and allow it to work its magic. This may be an especially tired bit of reviewer advice, but it's very apt in this case. When you put in this disc, don't plan on doing anything for 40 minutes. Try to turn off your mind and just absorb. Better yet, pop it in the discman and go for an evening stroll. Its simple, yet unpredictably structured songs will tap into both your reflective and immediate mind states with its keen mix of clear-eyed poignancy and murky multi-tracked trance.

Broughton's a fine songwriter, so these songs could probably stand on their own amongst five or six others for a pretty enjoyably broody folk excursion. But with their itinerant tangents, they are given flight seldom seen with this sort of sound. Carefully considered, somebody like, say, Animal Collective (or Mr. Riley) could remix and stretch out a given Pink Moon track and come up with something not altogether unlike one of Broughton's sturdy refractions (though his voice is more operatic). Right, right, right -- the Nick Drake reference is beyond played-out, but this should give you a pretty good idea (just remember, I said Animal Collective remix, not cover) of what to expect from this unsettling record. I say unsettling, because there are times when the songs can begin to feel eerily infinite, particularly on the unnerving loop that beautifully takes out "Ever Rotating Sky" and the album. This is a great experience that'll appeal to followers of the gentler, yet not edgeless experimental folk. Somber as a funeral, but transcendent as a sentiment.

1. Ambiguity
2. Execution
3. Unmarked Grave
4. Walking Over You
5. Ever Rotating Sky

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