M. Mucci: Dangerous Summer
Tall House Recording Co.

Michael Mucci's Dangerous Summer is tailor-made for listeners who can never get enough of the twelve-string acoustic guitar's chiming sound. Consisting of three long-form explorations, the album, available in digital form and in a limited vinyl run of 150 copies, sees the Guelph, Ontario-based Mucci accompanied by Ben Grossman on the vielle à roue (in essence the French equivalent of the hurdy gurdy). It's not, incidentally, the first release by Mucci, who has issued two full-lengths and numerous EPs on his own Tall House Recording Co. imprint as well as on the Boston-based Private Chronology label.

The album's style won't be unfamiliar to those conversant with other proponents of the genre, James Blackshaw being the name that comes most immediately to mind. Mucci, like others associated with the style, uses repetition to induce an entranced state in the listener and generates luminous clouds of sound from a modest instrumental palette. A seventeen-minute journey, the opening piece “Hand in Hand” advances through multiple episodes of varying tempo, with Mucci and Grossman stopping for a restful pause after a spirited intro. The midtempo lilt that follows is especially dreamy, an effect attributable to the instruments' hypnotic sound and the music's waltz tempo. Mucci's picking and strums dominate, naturally, but Grossman's thick textural counterpoint also catches one's ear for being so dynamic a presence and consequently functions as something more than mere background. The music ebbs and flows in a hypnotic manner that makes the seventeen minutes disappear in half the time.

The central setting “Kew” opens meditatively, with Grossman augmenting Mucci's strums with electronic touches before the material picks itself up and heads off in a sprint to gradually blossom into a full-blown swirl of guitar patterns and ambient textures. At disc's end, the title track exudes the most countrified air of the three due to the rustic bowed tones that appear alongside the guitar picking, and as its seven minutes unfold one wonders what could possibly be so dangerous about the titular summer when the music unfolds so breezily and with as much freedom as the open sky. As clarified, only two players account for the thirty-seven-minute album's material, but, frankly, no other contributors are needed when Dangerous Summer already teems with such glorious sound and detail.

February 2014