Dusted Reviews

Alvarius B. - Alvarius B

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Alvarius B.

Album: Alvarius B

Label: Abduction

Review date: Sep. 17, 2006

Unlike his brother Richard, Alan “Alvarius B” Bishop, the most vocal member of the comedic, peripatetic, desert-baked psychedelic outfit Sun City Girls, is rarely praised for his guitar skills. He’s more often noted for his Dadaist humor, wacky characters and invented language. This disc, a reissue of a scantly pressed 1994 solo record, should help him get his share of the credit for the Girls’ rugged, expansive musical aesthetic.

Because Sun City Girls commit almost every fucking thing they play to some sort of wax, it’s not hard to pick up on their themes and catch their repetition. On this ‘un, hardcore fans will hear dozens of familiar passages float through: hooks, bits and notions that surface, in a slightly more disciplined form, throughout the SCG catalog. There’s a rich melancholy to these acoustic, instrumental, home-recorded versions, a sense that when the music rattles and flails, it’s in recognition and defiance of the empty tape hiss around its edges.

As always, Bishop’s imagination seems game to bust out of the music’s technical confines. As with his occasional colleague Eugene Chadbourne, the lower the fidelity goes, the more singular his playing sounds. When the tape goes underwater, the urgency only intensifies. Without the distraction of his acidic voice (there’s some whistling on “Mr. Lonely,” but that’s it), his guitar proves an equally fitting channel for his unsteady personality.

If you’ve come to play Spot The Hook, you’ll be busy and intrigued. Bishop may have always been something of a lone nut on the music scene, but he draws from an incomparably wide range of influences. There’s much of the sparse American folk that drove John Fahey, along with the beacon of blues and the messy experimentation of proto-punk. There’s also plenty of the pan-global pilfering fans demand, with ideas on loan from Asia, Eastern Europe and elsewhere, clear marks of all sorts of styles not invented on guitars.

One at a time, most of these 32 tracks sound uncomfortably clipped. As a whole, though, Alvarius B is an affair equally soothing and disorienting. It’s all over the map, this one, and we’re lucky it’s back on it.

By Emerson Dameron

Other Reviews of Alvarius B.

Blood Operatives of the Barium Sunset

Baroque Primitiva

Read More

View all articles by Emerson Dameron

Find out more about Abduction

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.