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Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Griff says; Road trip across a lost America

Keen readers may recall that back in November of last year I alerted you to the, at that time, latest release from the folks at 'A Pile Of Lo-fi!' . This was compilation number 6 of their free, lo-fi, indie-music taster series and I remarked at the time that it contained an excellent song, Blue Highways, by the criminally under-rated Cabinet of Natural Curiosities (pictured above). I then went on to inform you that the band were in the process of recording a new album, reportedly to be titled Buttermilk Channel, and promised that as soon as we knew more we'd post it on here. Well, that day has dawned. Yesterday, saw the release of their latest lo-fi, ghost-folk project and it is indeed called, actually no, it is now simply titled Blue Highways, and I don't know whether it is inspired by the book of the same name, perhaps Jasmine can let us know, but it certainly contains a similar spirit of a gentle but haunted soul searching for meaning along the roads least travelled. Those of you who who appreciate the 'Griff says' magic formula (almost whispered femal vocals, lullaby-like folk experimentalism) will, like me, be enthralled by the tracks contained therein, from the chilling folk-noir of St. James Infirmary to the fragile spectral beauty of Green Grass.

The record was recorded by the usual Cabinet of Natural Curiosities personnel; principal song-writer Jasmine Dreame Wagner ably assisted by slide guitarist and percussionist Alex Wilson. The duo recorded on their Tascam 424 4-track and Tascam 488 8-track tape machines, the results were then mastered to vinyl by Roger Seibel at SAE Mastering. The hand-printed album cover is as lovingly produced as the music and Jasmine says of the complete artefact:

"This record and its sleeve aren't just containers for music. Each piece has been handcrafted and assembled like a quilt. "Blue Highways" is a product of people and their hands, down to the smallest detail. I am even reluctant to release it digitally, but what I want most is for people to experience the songs. The cover looks like a relic from a lost era and the LP sounds like a music box found in a dusty attic in the 1940s: dark, warm, and haunted."

The album can be ordered from the band's website and the For Arbors/For Satellites site. If you're in the US you can also catch the band on tour this June, July, and August. The Cabinet will be sharing shows with friends from near and far, including mini-tours with World History, Whitman, Fort King, Blaka Watra, Edwin R. Perry, and Reed Wilson & His Tree of Smoke. Check out the RVLRY site for more details.

In the meantime, a free MP3 of title track Blue Highways can be found on the duo's page and on the Cabinet of Natural Curiosities website. The band also has a CLLCT page.
As well as making top-class experimental folk music, Jasmine also writes poetry and produces visual art; working in photo series, pen and ink drawing, collage, and bookmaking (see sample below). Her various projects can be viewed at her excellent website songs about ghosts. Now, that should give you plenty of interesting stuff to keep you busy for a while.

Before I go, here are the videos for St. James Infirmary and Blue Highways:



  1. Absolutely breathtaking. Thanks for bringing this band to our attention, Griff, as usual.