steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Glenn Jones

"This Is the Wind That Blows It Out" CD

Strange Attractors Audio House

Genres: acoustic folk, instrumental

Strange Attractors
PO Box 13007
Portland OR

Sep 26 - Oct 3 2004

For more than a decade, Cul De Sac have been challenging listeners with their own brand of genre-defying contemporary "experimental rock" music, taking elements of every genre imaginable to create their own unique sound.  No strangers to melody, the band has always succeeded where others have slipped - although they explore the outer edges of "pop" music, their music rarely becomes boring or self-indulgent.  Accessibility seems to come hand-in-hand with the group's creative vision, and this is why they've become considerably more popular than much of their ilk.

But solo projects are tricky things.  If a band avoids being pretentious and self-serving, it's often the job of the so-called "side project" to satisfy these instinctual tendencies.  Picking up This Is the Wind That Blows It Out for the first time, I was considerably wary - Glenn Jones, one of Cul De Sac's founding members, and a particularly talented guitarist, could have easily used this release to indulge every one of his musical fantasies (deviant or not).  Fortunately, he takes the high road, instead using this album as an exploration of one of his long-running obsessions - instrumental acoustic guitar folk.  Homage is paid to the usuals - among others, Robbie Basho and Jim Fahey (there's a song entitled "Fahey's Car") - and the resulting compositions are simply stunning, performed with passion and skillful ease.

"The Doll Hospital," over eight minutes in duration, could be This Is the Wind's best moment.  It is a slow, winding folk piece, highlighted by downtrodden, moody melodies and a campfire-esque ambiance.  The album-opening title-track is also quite successful, based mostly on quirkily plucked chords, and "Sphinx Unto Curious Men," Wind's longest composition, uses its delicately low-key nature to foster self-reflection.

This Is the Wind That Blows It Out is certainly an exploratory release for Glenn Jones.  He experiments with his instrument, trying out different tunings and working with various moods and sounds.  But what could so easily become dry and inaccessible instead turns out entirely pleasant.  This Is the Wind is a rewarding, though admittedly inessential, listen.


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 8 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2004]