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Charles Atlas, "Felt Cover"

The cover of the third album from this San Franciscan duo somewhatbaffles me, and eerily provides hints about the contents. I have alwaysloved their albums but there's always something rather conceptuallymissing.The debut, 'Two More Hours' was charming with its ratherinnocent mix of electronics and drones, but the collection remainedsomewhat fragmented and untied with remixes by Isan and Alan Sparhawkof Low. The second album, 'Play the Spaces' was amazingly pretty butvery very very sleepy. On 'Felt Cover,' the music is undeniably calmonce again, but the styles vary with resonating guitars in one song, aviolin elsewhere, another with field recordings, and another withbrushed drums and trumpet. The most common interplay of instruments arethe combination of organ and guitar, yet they're seemingly alwaysmatched with something else. It's almost as if this were a sort ofcollaborative album by a DJ with various singers on each track. They'reno DJs however, but I do feel something of an identity crisis going on,as different spots sound Mick Turner-esque, Boxhead Ensemble-ish, orLabradford-like. These aren't necessarily bad things. Members CharlesWyatt and Matt Greenberg are excellent multi-instrumentalists, and I'msure that over time, the Charles Atlas sound will develop intosomething less familiar. Regardless of directional issues, the musicitself is tender and appropriately woven more than likely out of hoursof improvisations. I've found out through a number of listenings thatthis disc must be savored on its own: not at work, with a walkman, nordriving to. I have found many a relaxing evening winding down withCharles Atlas on the stereophonic hi-fi as the light from a late(winter) afternoon fades into the night. -