Small 40

Pelt: Skullfuck/Bestio Tergum Degero

This limited edition Pelt CD captures a November 2005 show at the Knitting Factory in New York City. One would guess that the "Skullfuck" in the title is a joking reference to the nickname of the Grateful Dead - perhaps this being the first in a long series of live albums. Regardless, this is a great live recording, combining two disparate 20+ minute tracks. The first is a full band reworking of "Calais to Dover" from Jack Rose's latest full length Kensington Blues. The reworking makes this track a whole new song, not just in the extra instrumentation, but in the way Rose plays the main melody of the song. In the solo version, Rose plays short, staccato notes creating a very lively, lyrical tone. In the full band version, with violin, harmonium, and sruti blissing out the sound, Rose plays the guitar softly and gently at first, creating a lulling drone. Much like the solo version, the song picks up in intensity during the second half, but in this version, the intensity comes off much angrier, with Mike Gandolff's violin darkening the tone and - at times - Rose thrashing at the guitar, creating a harsh, nonharmonic sound. The second song on the album gives the album the rest of its name, "Bestio Tergum Degero." My Latin isn't so good, but that's something like "The beast returns to pass time." The song continues where the band's recent untitled album left off with a massively minimal, shimmering, all-acoustic drone. The drone is broken into three parts. The first part discovers the monoliths, which at first seem like small beckoning signals, but as you get closer and come to terms with the scale, they tower over you. As you leave them, the second part of the suite begins, with modulating ringing tones creating micromelodies in a vacuum-like ether. After a short ride on that stream, the final part ends the album with something like a climax - as the audience starts to clap, the band bangs on what sounds like a room full of gongs, using all their might. If you drifted off during the calming 22 minutes prior, you most certainly are no longer asleep. Worthwhile.