Head Of Wantastiquet: Dead Seas
Conspiracy Records

Under the Head Of Wantastiquet alias, Belgium-based American musician Paul Labrecque (Sunburned Hand Of the Man) presents eleven backwoods ruminations, most of them laid-back and slow though variations in volume and disposition bring contrast to the material. Some tracks are careening space drones ideal for inducing entrancement, others bucolic folk instrumentals designed to brighten the spirit. Throughout the forty-six-minute album, banjos, strings, and electric guitars give voice to psychedelic-folk mantras that are equally, yes, sunburned and neo-primitive.

The hypnotic opener “Return to Agharti” entrances with a relaxed blend of pedal-point drone, banjo plucks, and rustic bowed tones, a style that re-emerges in “Victorious Eyes” this time joined by vocals. On the acoustic side of things, we get “Goodbye Biloxi,” a gentle backporch etude for banjo and acoustic guitar , and “11:11,” where acoustic guitar patterns cycle and flutter against a scratchy drone of bowed strings. Dominated as it is by rapid finger-picking and a hushed vocal mumur, “A Curse Repeated” could easily be mistaken for a Benoit Pioulard song. The electric side includes “Mavi Marmara,” a meditative drone of rippling guitar waves, and “All High Souls,” whose smoldering electric guitars sing a plaintive song. During the album's loudest track, “On Earth As it is in Heaven,” bluesy riffs and shadings build dramatically into a near-howl

Dedicated to the memory of Jack Rose, Dead Seas is an unassuming collection that won't set the world on fire or revolutionize any particular genre and wasn't designed to do so. Taken on its own modest terms, however, the release provides a satisfyingly wide-ranging set of smoky electric-folk hymns.

December 2010