Thursday, August 13, 2020 
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+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
+ Múm - Peel Session
+ Deloris - Ten Lives
+ Minimum Chips - Lady Grey
+ Badly Drawn Boy - Born In The U.K.
+ The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls Together
+ The Blood Brothers - Young Machetes
+ The Places - Songs For Creeps
+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
+ Christina Carter - Electrice
+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
+ Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
+ Various Artists - Musics In The Margin
+ Rafael Toral - Space
+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
+ Excepter - Alternation
+ Chris Thile - How To Grow A Woman From The Ground
+ Brad Mehldau - Live in Japan
+ M Ward - Post-War
+ Various Artists - Touch 25
+ The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
+ The White Birch - Come Up For Air
+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
+ Giuseppe Ielasi - Giuseppe Ielasi
+ Cex - Actual Fucking
+ Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
+ Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
+ Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass Is Always Greener
+ Robin Guthrie - Continental
+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
+ Oakley Hall - Second Guessing
+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
+ Asobi Seksu - Citrus
+ Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs
+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
+ The 1900s - Plume Delivery EP
+ Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
+ Loscil - Plume
+ Boris - Pink
+ Deadboy And The Elephantmen - We Are Night Sky
+ Glissandro 70 - Glissandro 70
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
+ The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
+ Motorpsycho - Black Hole/Blank Canvas
+ The Red Krayola - Introduction
+ Metal Hearts - Socialize
+ American Princes - Less And Less
+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
+ Supersilent - 7
+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
+ Dudley Perkins - Expressions
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Boozoo Bajoo
Stereo Deluxe/K7

Let's face it: downtempo isn't the most challenging of genres, its entire modus operandi being to soothe the listener into a kind of dulled-pulse, glazed-gaze state of suspended animation. The form's reliance on dub effects and "blunted" imagery doesn't help: when it's not being used in car commercials, the whole point of downtempo often seems to be as a soundtrack for skinning up.

All of which makes it awfully hard to write about the stuff, seeing as there's often very little to hold onto (and don't get me wrong — I'm a fan). But the truth is in the details, and a little close listening is enough to separate the wheat from the chaff (or, in this case, the seeds from the ganja).

Germany's Boozoo Bajoo, like their countrymen the Trüby Trio and their Viennese neighbors Kruder and Dorfmeister (both of whom they've remixed, in fact), are certainly fascinated with Jamaican dub and South American rhythms, but they assemble their pastiche skillfully enough to avoid cries of "plunderer!" Sure, they use elements: slow-mo bossa nova rhythms, samples of Jamaican patois ("Satta" is island dialect for "relax"), and enough delay to make Steve Austin's sonic bionics sound utterly flat. But the duo's andante dub and underwater blues never sound forced; indeed, in borrowing Tubby's toolkit, they've also learned the crucial rule of dub: never clutter.

So space opens up around throbbing keys and plodding bass, and rimshots ring out like whipcracks in a forest clearing. On "Divers," for instance, multiple layers of hand drums set out a sparse, wooden foundation, from which emerge sci-fi stabs and bleats of harmonium that seem to float like orchids in the eaves. To speed up the proceedings, "Yoruba Road" delivers an Afrobeat-inflected take on rhythm and blues, a jittery, syncopated game of call and response between horns and Hammond.

Clearly, Boozoo Bajoo aren't concerned with modernist bugaboos like authenticity, complexity or originality — but then again, why should they be? After all, even sober-minded critics can stand to relax every now and then.

by Philip Sherburne

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