On (untitled), Pelt earn their nickname the Hillbilly Theatre of Eternal Music. The hillbilly part comes from both their Virginian nascence and the fact that, despite half the band living in large East coast metropolises, blues-tinged guitar tonalities give their music a distinctly rural vibe. The rest of the name comes from the similarities between their elongated drones and those played since the '60s by LaMonte Young and his associates in various NYC lofts. The ensemble comprises Jack Rose, Mike Gangloff, Patrick Best and newest member Mikel Dimmick, who between them play guitar, cello, gongs, sruti box, esraj and Tibetan bowls. This is Pelt's second all-acoustic release, but unlike 2003's Pearls From The River, the emphasis is not on tunes. Although the album's centerpiece second track (of four, all untitled) opens with a lyrical 12-string fantasia, it soon plunges into a maelstrom of doggedly sawed strings, which in turn settle like river sediment accumulating to create some distant future age's striated canyon walls. This music hearkens back to the rich overtone action of earlier pieces like "Ghost Galaxies" from Empty Bell Ringing In The Sky or “The Dream of Sleeping Sharks” from Ayahuasca, in which the action isn’t in the drones as much as the sounds that radiate outwards from them. But they’ve never sounded better doing it. A fine recording job certainly helps; the metallic resonance that rises off the foundational squeezebox pulse on the first track is so tactile you could put it in your pocket and rub it like a lucky penny, yet so hypnotic it feels like it emanates from some throbbing sweet spot between your sinus cavity and the back of your skull. But more important is the musicians’ rare sense of attunement, to pure sound and to each other. Young used to let oscillators play for days in his home in order to alter his consciousness; you could do the same thing with track three’s lovely ringing, which I can imagine forever sounding in that far dimension Pelt taps into every now and again for their own amusement and the betterment of those around them.
By Bill Meyer