Somewhere off in Floyd County -- forlorn Floyd County -- a bottleneck begins bellyaching that familiar moan -- repeatedly scraping down, then back up a guitar neck. Even aside from the railroad clack of certain Fahey-inflected passages, the guttural gurgle is discerning mystical. Even for backwoods Virginia, "Out Canning Factory Road" qualifies as otherworldly. The rumble behind its ramble helps, a backdrop of subterranean detonations whose vibrations flood out in shock waves just as eerie as heavy. That convergence of earthbound and planetary is tied to two independent travelers who momentarily crossed paths inside a farmhouse-turned-studio. New Yorker Steve Gunn, prolific sonic explorer and noted sideman for Kurt Vile’s Violators, came with his acoustic guitars. Appalachian Mike Gangloff, whose résumé includes Pelt and the Black Twig Pickers, traveled heavier, packing a wagon full of such wonderfully oddball instruments as singing bowls, gongs and some of India’s most favored droners like the stringed tanpura and a shruti box, the harmonium’s cousin. All of that plus his trusty banjo. They holed up in the PM and, by dawn, left behind five “songs” devoid of cliché, boundaries, rules, overdubs, digital trickery — or words. No forethought either. Spontaneous generation had ruled the night, responsible for creating everything from the front-porch orthodoxy of “Dive for thePearl” to “First of Spring,” which teeters on the edge of consciousness as Gunn sets skeins of gently plucked notes adrift into the revolving — never resolving — tangle of Gangloff ’s gnarled string drones. “Topeka AM,” however, is their magnum opus. Led by a 12-string, the expedition goes from room to room, encountering shifting atmospheres with every entry, actively strengthening in multiple stages of turbulence throughout. Seventeen minutes later, the rustic raga bursts. By getting lost inside their own heads, Gunn & Gangloff toy with your mind’s neurochemistry: summoning the most majestic melancholy, tapping into distant calamity, radiating ominous desolation, heightening perception, hollowing you out, swallowing you in desolate Melodies For a Savage Fix.
-- Dennis Rozanski, Bluesrag