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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
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+ 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
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+ 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
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+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
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A Taste Of Ra
A Taste Of Ra

I won't blame you if you've never heard of Nicolai Dunger. He's a Swedish singer/songwriter who has spent plenty of time soaking up the mystic jazz-rock of Van Morrison's Astral Weeks and lived a while in the spirit world of Morrison's Woodstock hippie-soul period. He's recorded with Will Oldham and members of Mercury Rev, creating soulful albums including 2004's Here's My Song, You Can Have It… I Don't Want It Anymore and 2001's Soul Rush. His work isn't exactly commercial, but then again, I can certainly imagine some of his songs on the radio. A Taste of Ra appears to be Dunger's way of making a completely non-commercial album, a mystic jazz-folk album that is possibly his strongest recording to date. This one won't get on the radio, unless we're talking Internet and community radio. Dunger's voice, which will, in addition to Morrison, remind you of the late Jeff Buckley at times, is a most subtle, emotional instrument. Here he uses it to deliver melodies that drift through the songs like billowy clouds across muted blue sky. The album itself is packaged in a consciously lo-fi, handmade manner: the cover is a piece of thick paper with simple drawings on it; all the text (lyrics, song titles) is handwritten. The paper cover folds around the CD; it comes in a thin plastic slipcover. Dunger's name is nowhere to be found anywhere on the package. But as soon as "Lovearth Song…" begins, there is no mistaking that voice. At times it sounds like Dunger is caught up in some religious fervor, a vehicle for a godly sound that will transport you far, far away from the noise and chaos of urban and suburban life. Imagine a soundtrack to "Siddhartha" composed and recorded in 1968 at "Big Pink" in Woodstock by Morrison and the Incredible String Band, and you have a sense of this wonderful 11-song album. Start with A Taste of Ra, but beware. Dunger is addictive, and you'll be seeking out Soul Rush, Tranquil Isolation and the others before long.

by Michael Goldberg

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