Last year, Steve Gunn turned heads with the accomplished psyc rock of Way Out Weather. But rather than pursue that album's esoteric yet accessible sound, he retreated to the Americana margins with Virginia primitivists the Black Twig Pickers for five spontaneous bursts of deep-folk-picking, fiddle and mouth harp action. This is no Appalachian chocolate box experience, though, having more in common with the haunted landscapes of HP Lovecraft's horror stories or Alan Moore's Swamp Thing comic series. Cardinal 51 and Trailways Ramble both evoke the ghosts of long-lost trains, Don't Let Your Deal Go Down wrings the menance and poverty from an ancient ballad, and the closing title track brings 16 Stygian minutes of rustic psychedelia. More an EP than an album, it's possibly not for the unwitting.
-- Ian Harrow, Q