Shane Perlowin is prolific. His new solo album, Odei, follows less than a year after his last release, Anatomy of a Moment, with percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani. Also in that eight months or so, Perlowin toured in Europe, composed sheet music and begat an heir — hence Odei‘s spritely-if-contemplative middle track, “Is That You My Daughter to Be.”
The entire seven-track collection is all acoustic guitar, strummed and plucked and seemingly bent and cajoled into shapes both dreamy and uncomfortable. If this album was a series of yoga poses, it would flow through moments of release and tension, of muscular gripping and soulful surrender. “Torture Fabric” is percussive thrumming, a rubber band pulled taught and snapped, musical here and nettled there — though why should something bitingly atonal be considered “non musical”? If Perlowin is asking that question through his explorations at the far reaches of the guitar’s boundaries, the answer seems to be that all sounds are equally worthy and warrant a voice in the choir.
“Barricades” buzzes and snaps with coiled anticipation. So layered and interwoven are that track’s sounds that it’s hard to believe it is, indeed, a solo effort. But even as it morphs from twang to hum to bee-loud gambol, it maintains a core of melody. Perlowin has long been a pathfinder in experimental music, and Odei continues that mission with a journey through moods and soundscapes. The song cycle is bookended by the moody ebb of “Blind Contour” — a song on which even Perlowin’s fingers squeaking on the strings adds to the sonic kaleidoscope — and the fluttering almost Eastern strains of “The Wake.”