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Mike & Cara Gangloff: Poplar Hollow

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Mike & Cara Gangloff: Poplar Hollow

Been a while since I've posted. Since the last one, two new Black Twig Pickers related recordings have come up, both excellent. I'll write about each (as well as some other stuff) over the course of the next few days.

The most recent release is Mike Gangloff's solo album Poplar Hollow.
This is a great collection of songs. Mike focuses on fiddle and banjo, with some singing. On two tracks his fiddle playing is accompanied by sruti box which creates a really beautiful aural density that's easy to get lost in, particularly on his take of Sally Coming Through The Rye. In this tune there are quite a few moments where the notes of the sruti and fiddle merge, creating a heady drone that can feel dizzying.

The unaccompanied fiddle tracks are just as compelling. His playing is deliberately paced but highly rhythmic and varied. The track New Orleans for example is played at a moderate speed but is expressive of a few things: a mournful keening, what to me sounds like a sad chuckle and then up to a strong, confident proclamation.

Two of the banjo tracks are versions of tunes I've heard before on other BTP or Gangloff solo releases: Ironto Farewell (well, actually this is related to his song Ironto Special but technically not the same structure) and Waiting on My Rider Back from Town. A version of this last tune was on the Twigs album Soon One Morning. Here the banjo is played with a slide, which of course sounds awesome.

The other banjo tune, Cat Mountain, is a little more abstract than the aforementioned tracks. It has a slippery structure that differs from the usual high part/low part framework of most old-time banjo music. In this way the tune is evocative of varied feelings: from wistful to raucous to jubilant.

I've only talked about a few of the tracks here, but I find this whole collection to be utterly compelling. Being a fan of Pelt as well as the Black Twigs, I pay attention to the links that those two groups share. Gangloff's collection sounds to me like a perfect connection of the two.
-- Joseph, Late Ramble