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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
+ Growing - Color Wheel
+ Red Carpet - The Noise Of Red Carpet
+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
+ Espers - II
+ Wilderness - Vessel States

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Robin Guthrie
Rocket Girl(UK)/Darla(U.S.)

I guess you could make a case for Robin Guthrie's Bella Union label, with its eclectic artist roster, being his most successful break with his past musical life as a Cocteau Twin. But with Continental, Guthrie's own muse seems firmly rooted in a sound he first established back in the early '80s. From the opening reverb and shimmer of guitar on the title track, leading off this collection, you're immersed in semi-ambient atmospherics and diaphanous textures, all indelibly stamped with Guthrie's distinctive playing style.

At its weakest, Continental sounds slight but accomplished, with Guthrie seemingly content to let his music drift by — early in the running order, both "Conquering the Romantic" and "Crescent" display this generally relaxed-sounding approach that's pleasant enough, but only mildly diverting at best. But it then becomes clear that Guthrie has put together these tracks with a purposeful sense of progression, with a dynamic logic whereby the album as a whole raises its own slighter moments. So the more downbeat "Monument" shifts the tone in preparation for the deep percussive chimes and spacious guitar patterns of "Amphora" and the riveting dynamics of "The Day Star," which suddenly explodes into loud riffs, contrasting with the gently swaying melodic refrain of its intro. "Radiance" has echoes of '60s-style vintage futurism in its ringing lead lines, and "As I Breathe" beefs up an otherwise sedate sound with some underlying fuzziness. "Last Exit" returns to ambient guitar glimmer with added piano before "Pale" rounds things off with a subtly dramatic surge from minimalist synth and guitar beginnings.

Really, there are few surprises here, but there is a crucial one, which is that Continental gradually reveals itself to be a solidly constructed and rather strong collection. Hardly a great progressive leap forward for Guthrie, but a welcome showcase for his particular style.

by Tom Ridge

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