DURA “Reverberation Hymns”

The latest batch of tapes from the Athens, Georgia, label Garden Portal – a fairly recent venture launched by NULL|Z0NE label head Michael Potter – starts us off with Dura’s “Reverberation Hymns,” a groin-grabbingly delicious set of meditative geetar (yes?) and field-recorded ephemera. So, yeah, you’ll need headphones, what with all the “reverberation” and “hymns” and whatnot that you’ll get on this release. A lengthy “song” cycle (hymns, remember!) by Mattson Ogg, “Reverberation Hymns” finds the musician turning inward, allowing the music that he’s making work on himself more than anything. These tunes are incredibly personal, it’s delightfully obvious, and their length and repetitive nature act as healing pulses to the psychological center. What Dura doesn’t offer are absolutes, or even answers. Instead, Ogg is content to let the music happen to him, to be the catalyst for self-betterment or healing or whatever. This is what the celestial singing of angels would sound like if it was distilled down into whatever it is Dura’s doing at all times.

ALEXANDER “Untitled”

Alexander, like Madonna, Cher, Prince, and Lebron, only uses a single name, and that’s all that matters. Because what Lebron can do with a basketball, Alexander can do with a fingerpicked acoustic guitar. Too bad there’s not some kind of “National Guitar Association” like there is an NBA, because Alexander would be an all-star every year. Over 22 short tracks, most lasting less than two minutes but a couple extending past three, Alexander joins the folk greats around the campfire with lovingly crafted instrumental passages that will likely leave you weeping, or at least nostalgic. Well, except when he plays the guitar really fast, then he sounds like he’s auditioning for Joan of Arc or something. All of it’s a great mix, an excellent showcase for the label and a charming introduction (for me, anyway) to a remarkable talent.