Dusted Reviews

Ignatz - II

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: Ignatz

Album: II

Label: K-RAA-K

Review date: Mar. 21, 2007

The wrangled blues and distinctive vocals that mark Ignatz’s self-titled debut garnered plenty of comparisons to a certain renowned recluse, though, general atmosphere aside, there’s not a bevy to evidence the claim. Bram Devens, after all, isn’t concerned with anonymity, his lyrics aren’t so stubbornly obtuse, but, most importantly, it’s the Belgian’s palate that sets him apart; while his Jandek-ian treatment of the blues might owe itself partially to the Corwood magnate’s oeuvre, Devens’ work is more expansive, especially on this, his succinctly-titled second album on the (K-RAA-K) label. On II, Devens continues to ply his murky appropriations of folk and the blues in what’s simultaneously a credible tribute to and fresh divergence from the genres to which he’s most indebted.

It’s unquestionably an exaggeration to assert, as some have, that Ignatz, to the unknowing listener, could be mistaken for a bonafide blues pioneer, but Devens proves that he can play it relatively straight on “I Was Not There,” without effects or abstraction. But the song’s instrumental interludes, multi-tracked and disjointed, place the music firmly in the present, which isn’t such a bad thing. II, for all it owes to musicians long gone, is most impressive when Devens works more freely outside of traditional idioms, like the meditational drift of “Dreams” or “He Deals With Love & Her Eyes Glaze,” in which Devens’ guitar is encircled by comet-tailed feedback that swirls like fireflies. “Hurling Incense” departs from Devens’ usual forte entirely, but the track’s glimmering field of stars is the exception on a disc that’s usually anchored on more solid musical ground.

What’s most interesting about Ignatz’s sound is that his dirty work doesn’t feel superfluous, not present simply for the sake of sullying up an otherwise sparkling recording. Devens rarely allows any detritus to obscure the central motifs of a composition, instead, he finds a way to use the lo-fi recording and purposeful imperfections in order to sound more direct. Were II recorded by conventional standards, the album would lose the mysterious quality that serves it so well, and while Devens’ songwriting isn’t that of a mediocre modern-day bluesman, it’s the sum of its parts that makes II noteworthy. The album’s a curious document, music that touches the past and the present, but doesn’t move between the two in the expected arc. Instead, Devens stops to pick things up along the way, and purposefully drags the whole mess through the mud on more than one occasion. With many artists, such an aesthetic might feel put on, but in Ignatz’s case it seems an appropriate addition to his Belgian blues.

By Adam Strohm

Read More

View all articles by Adam Strohm

Find out more about K-RAA-K

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.