KEEP MIN 2 DOT
Magpie's Reflected Ceiling Plan
(2019 - self released - USA)
With cover art (by Hal Dean himself) that could be a collaboration of Dali, Ernst, and Magritte, and with music that flows and gently rolls every bit as well as Dean's debut 'Wounded Golden Section' (which easily made my BEST CHOICES of 2018 list), Keep Min 2 Dot presents the 2nd release. Seven songs totaling just over 40 minutes, bring partly mysterious, plenty of playfulness, in a equally interesting canvas of out jazz, ambient, 80's dub and slowcore hybrid (think Bark Psychosis), but with added Canterbury flurry and surprises along the way. Eccentric with bits of Henry Cow, and influences too numerous to list, the formula is a solid with never a dull moment.
Much of the music scurries about like a rambunctious group of baby raccoons, picking up multiple objects to play with along their travels for that evening. With lots of activity, an outer atmospheric feel, and so much of it warm and somewhat clothed under a thin blanket, it gives the listener a bit of anticipation that something might pop out and assault you at any moment. I will leave that thought open, to invite you to buy and listen attentively to this entire release. (headphones are encouraged, however the open speaker experience is essential as well). There is a surprise on track 4 ('Withershed') after all the instrumental moments, where vocals (by Dean) are introduced in a spaced out stream of consciousness part, that has similar qualities to something that may have been done by Lol Coxhill, Martin Newell, Daevid Allen, or the sorts. Early Steve Hillage nods pop up from time to time, but there is this consistently busy and enticing avant-jazz-celestial lavender and poppy field dreamscape that is all Howl Din (Hal Dean of course).
With the exception of Matt Stein (bass) and June Bender (violin), who were recorded live together on 'Looking Through the Ground' (track #2) and 'Magpie’s Reflected Ceiling Plan' (track #7), Hal played all other (a big list) instruments. He used a variety of means and controllers (such as the Akai EWI USB for the winds) via computers at times, real guitars, odd percussion, mellotron, other varied keyboards including piano, and an impressive number of methods to make this all happen. The compositions are detailed, finely crafted, and done with patience (and wit). While this sophomore release is indeed more dreamy and delicate, like a freshly bloomed rose of many colors, the softness and somewhat opaque layers that make up this unusual journey through an otherworldly time piece, give it the charm. I sometimes got the visual of picking up a very large snow globe, and gently shaking it, to watch the thousands of flakes slowly float and finally lay down in a cozy white resting place. RECOMMENDED.
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 8 - 10 - 2019