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Viking's Choice: Nathan Bowles, 'Chuckatuck'

Aug 27, 2014
Originally published on June 23, 2016 7:56 am

Music is about connection. Sometimes that connection is a feeling, a theory or a technique, but mostly music connects time and provides a record of how we choose to interact with it.

There's a deep distillation of Nathan Bowles' musical past and present on his second solo album, Nansemond: from the old-time Black Twig Pickers to the abstract drone of Spiral Joy Band to the band that sort of splits the difference, Pelt. But Bowles also carves out his own corner of this clawhammer-banjo-based music and takes a portal through time while keeping one foot in the ether. Take a listen to "Chuckatuck," named for the Virginia creek he grew up on, and featuring Charalambides' Tom Carter on guitar.

Built on a hypnotic banjo melody that drones more like a sitar than something out of Appalachia, "Chuckatuck" sounds like something recorded in a bunker and long since forgotten. There are muffled shuffles throughout, as if a woodland creature overhead had become irresistibly drawn to the percussive plucks and Carter's acoustic arpeggios. For the coda, Carter switches to the electric guitar for a regal solo that belongs more to the wandering English countryside (think Richard Thompson, then put some burn on it) than to the tidewater.

Nansemond comes out Nov. 18 on Paradise of Bachelors.

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