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Various Artists - Parallelogram (Three Lobed Recordings)

8 October 2015

North Carolina label Three Lobed Recordings is well known for taking chances and giving unconventional collaborations a fair shake (see: 2013’s Golden Gunn and the recent Hagerty-Toth Band LP.) But they have truly outdone themselves on their newest and, in their own words, “improbable” project to date with Parallelogram.

Parallelogram is a 5 LP set featuring never before released works by Hiss Golden Messenger, Michael Chapman, Six Organs of Admittance, William Tyler, Kurt Vile, Steve Gunn, Thurston Moore & John Moloney (Caught On Tape), Alan Bishop/Bill Orcutt/Chris Corsano (Bishop-Orcutt-Corsano Trio), Bardo Pond and Yo La Tengo. Let’s now take a moment and collectively exclaim, “Holy Shit!”

Three Lobed curated pairings for each LP and in doing so, have given interested listeners something they could have only dreamed of before. For those who have sat thinking about what a Yo La Tengo/Bardo Pond or Six Organs of Admittance/William Tyler record would sound like, your daydreaming is over.

Arguably, the best track from the entire set is “Spring Garden “ by Steve Gunn. This has a lot to do with it being a true collaboration between Gunn and Kurt Vile (who share an LP and recorded their material together.) Gunn begins with what’s becoming for him, a signature style of explorative acoustic guitar. Vile adds his own Vile-esque leads and dry piano. It’s a song/meditation that captures the spirit of the project remarkably well.

“The Mallard” by Michael Chapman (who shares an LP with Hiss Golden Messenger) is another standout track. It proves Chapman has not lost any of his chops and has only gotten better over time.The song breathes introspection through its use of forlorn strings, plainspoken lyrics, and Chapman’s customary guitarwork. If anyone doesn’t think that Michael Chapman is still the man, they need to hear “The Mallard.”

Sharing an LP with Six Organs of Admittance, William Tyler also shines bright with “No Marigolds in the Promised Land.” It’s part of a larger song Tyler has been penning for some time; think of it as an ornate quilt block that’s part of a beautiful quilt Tyler is working on. Caught On Tape, Yo La Tengo, Bardo Pond, and Six Organs of Admittance all deliver extended exploratory pieces, each exhibiting what makes both the music and the label so unique.

Steve Lacy once said, “I think it is in collaboration that the nature of art is revealed.” Parallelogram packs Lacy’s concept into an elegant 5 LP set that must be heard to be believed.

Three Lobed Recordings