“Shakes/The Noise of Wings” C27
(Very Special Recordings)

The ghosts of King Crimson and Yes – at least of the members who have died, I guess (can you be alive and still be a ghost in some way? I wonder) – haunt Dustin Carlson, permeating his ideas for how music should be composed and presented and inspiring in him practices for maximum technical and melodic output. Put another way, DC likes his prog weird and woolly, and we as listeners should not want it any other way. I mean, I wish I would’ve written this descriptive copy: “[This tape] wouldn’t sound out of place … if an imaginary gospel group ate a tub of LSD and holed up in the studio with Brian Eno.” A whole tub of LSD! Could you even imagine…

Each of the two sidelong suites winds down different paths, changing course and cohering as they progress. Trombones and voice begin “Shakes” before gradually decaying into electronic chaos. A voice and guitar emerges at the end (yes, there’s the King Crimson comparison) to bring it on home. “The Noise of Wings” follows a similar pattern, this time beginning with guitar, banjo, strings, and voice before devolving into a low-frequency bass/spoken fragments middle section. Carlson’s voice returns with heavily treated echoing guitar, ending on an angelic note of transcendent beauty. Did I say transcendent beauty? I did. I’m not kidding. Dustin Carlson’s take on prog and experimental composition is way more refreshing than it has any right to be – anybody digging up the dinosaurs of 1970s excess should be overbearingly dull, shouldn’t they? No – no they shouldn’t. That’s what contemporary American society would have you believe. I say get back in there and fall in love with prog all over again. I sure love it like a crazy person.

--Ryan Masteller