Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Shark Quest - Gods and Devils

After a lengthy hiatus, Shark Quest returns with Gods and Devils, a collection of pieces featuring works used as the soundtrack to a work by self-taught counterculture animator Bruce Bickford and also in Monster Road, a documentary on the animator's life and rarely seen work. Much of the album is quite animated-sounding, particularly the opening track, "The Rosetta Barrage," which, with its intricate mandolins and twangy guitars, sounds a little like an Appalachian take on a spaghetti Western theme by Ennio Morricone. Morricone's name is often bandied about, along with those of Friends of Dean Martinez and Calexico, when discussing Shark Quest, and for good reason: all of these artists share an exquisite sense of mood and atmosphere. Hints of surf bands like the Ventures pop up on the darkly lovely "Sin the Moon," and while tracks such as "Three Ivy Leaves" still feel like part of a soundtrack rather than a stand-alone work, an air of restrained mystery runs through Gods and Devils. However, the album's best moments, such as the spooky epic "Katherine of Krakow," have more than enough presence in their own right. The wide array of instruments used in Gods and Devils' arrangements -- which include steel guitar, marimbas, all kinds of percussion, and a water bottle -- give the album more color and texture than the group's previous work. A dreamy but involving listening experience, Gods and Devils marks an important step forward for Shark Quest. ~ Heather Phares

Rosetta Barrage        
Sin the Moon        
Three Ivy Leaves        
Katherine of Krakow        
Gibbous Orisha        
Furies On Fire


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