Pelt is the
current incarnation of Jack Rose, a multi-instrumentalist who has been putting
things out for quite a while now. His
guitar work on Opium Musick and Red Horse, White Mule was thrilling and
wonderful, but he’s moved on to a different sound now, thicker and much more
abstract. Pelt has put out a few
records, some better than others but none without their good parts – Six of
Cups has the distorted Bardo Pond squall “Sun is Apart no. 1,” Ayahuasca has
the chilling and awesome “True Vine,” but both albums were saddled with
extended periods of noise and experimentation that simply doesn’t interest me –
Pelt’s best album is the one I heard first, and if you are to hear only one it
should be this. I encountered Pearls From
The River on a fluke when I was first exploring fakejazz; the review was
gushing but totally incomprehensible, and I wanted to see what warranted such
For a while I still didn’t know what to make of it – the opening track, “Up the North Fork,” gives no hints as to its intentions until almost 4 minutes in – the bowed drone of the intro is slightly terrifying and I was afraid it was going to pull a Double Leopards(their album was reviewed at the same time and just as well). Fortunately, it broke into a kind of sitar/ukelele freakout halfway through and I could tell this was going to be a comparatively normal album – that is to say, there were to be instruments involved.
The title track comes next and feels like a more layered and complicated “True Vine,” which is not necessarily a good or bad thing. It sounds somewhat improvised and certainly has its moments but for being 20 minutes long it stays mostly in the same territory.
“Road to Catawba” is the last track, and is most reminiscent of Rose’s earlier work – the slowly growing acoustic storms of “Red Horse” most particularly. This time, however, the music recalls the far east instead of the old west as sitars and other eastern instruments back up his careful fingerwork. It grows and grows for 15 minutes, in accordance with Rose’s modus operandi, beginning with tentative twanging and ending with every string being abused constantly.
All the songs are way too long to post here, so here’s an excerpt from "Road to Catawba,"