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The eponymous SARABANDE CD (43 min) is, so to speak, the most recent addition to the piggy bank of releases related to US progressive hard rock band Sleepy Hollow, nobody else but Matt Schwarz being the driving force in this project. There is something in common between this album and Matt's debut solo offering, "The Lost Way", as both the recordings only feature acoustic instruments (here mainly guitar, flutes, harp and violins) and have a distinct folk feeling as well. On the other hand however, although performed by a quartet and having usually a lush sound, this music is noticeably simpler overall. The fact is that the disc's eighteen tracks are all very short (lasting for less than two-and-a-half minutes on average) and are just renderings of various traditional tunes, dances included. Most of the pieces belong to West European music, but while some of those evoke the Middle Ages, others don't, so unlike "The Lost Way", this recording is not filled throughout with a medieval aura, by a long way. There also are some really primitive tunes to be found here, such as Kalinka (sure, the most popular Russian folk song!) or Black Eyes, which in turn is certainly the most hackneyed opus from the repertoire of Russian Gypsies, to name a few. Perhaps Matt is experiencing a creative crisis at the moment; otherwise it's hard to explain his decision to rehash all those archaic smash hits that form most of the content of "Sarabande".
VM: June 11, 2007
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