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Three Forks - Seven Layer Ape

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Artist: Three Forks

Album: Seven Layer Ape

Label: United Fairy Moons

Review date: Feb. 6, 2006

It would seem that if you are a musician from Dunedin, New Zealand, your career opportunities are clear: either sell your soul to the infamous “Dunedin sound” and spend all your time crafting perfect indie-pop miniatures or alternatively dock your piss-stained trailer in the outsider caravan park founded by ingrates like The Dead C and the rest of the Bruce Russell-led Xpressway faction. Three Forks, the now sadly defunct trio of New Zealand-based multi-instrumentalists, opted for the latter.

All seven pieces here were improvised straight to cassette at various local happenings during the band’s short life span between 2002-04 and serve as fitting testimony to their blistering rawness and engaging abstraction. The group is at their best when the bowed strings of United Fairy Moons label boss Jim Currin (violin, cello) and Tim Cornelius (violin) dual it out, sounding like Henry Flynt jamming a woozy hoe-down with a drunk John Cale, while Donald McPherson’s often melodious guitar circles and penetrates what little space remains, emulating the minimalist blues of Loren Connors’ earliest works. Especially engaging is “Otaru Vision” where flute and walkie-talkie static are added to the mix creating a nocturnal hymn for some enchanted forest.

The live sound makes Seven Layer Ape feel like a campfire hootenanny where both liquor and love are in endless supply. “Drunken Traffic” may be the first truly beautiful piece of the year, a wonderful dance between fiddle and acoustic guitar while the sound of passing cars provides a little extra ambience. From nowhere comes bliss.

By Spencer Grady

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