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Thursday, December 22

A Reminder - 'Parallelograms' By Linda Perhacs.

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The mysterious Linda Perhacs made one obscure album in the early 1970s before vanishing; before it was reissued on CD in 1998, the record label spent a fruitless two years trying to locate her. (Perhaps she was living in Hawaii when she made this, as the songs are copyrighted to Hawaii Music Publishing Company.) The obvious reference point for this low-key, largely acoustic singer-songwriter record is early Joni Mitchell, although Perhacs may be a tad darker and more sultry. There are similar vocal navigations of the smoky lower register and high trills. While Perhacs' writing and singing is not up to Mitchell's brilliance, it's quite good and not so explictly derivative that it's difficult to enjoy on its own merits (unlike the records by another Mitchellesque singer of the early 1970s, Alisha Sufit of Britain). The haunting acoustic guitar playing, and occasional folk-jazz arrangements (Shelly Mann played drums) and rhythms on the cuts with a band backup, are other ingratiating Joni-isms. The Parallelograms album is set apart from Mitchell, however, by a mildly experimental, even spacy, tinge to some of the lyrics and the production. Occasionally she multi-tracks her vocals to good, inventive use, and there are subtle electronic effects and rain and wind noises from time to time that add to the record's gentle mystique. Like Mitchell's debut album, it's one of those late-night records, when you want something that's appropriate for the mood, but neither too spooky nor too mellow.

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Album Review...

Probably this came out in the early 1970s when it was first issued on Kapp (the songs are copyrighted 1970); it was reissued by The Wild Places on CD in 1998. Joni Mitchell's first albums, particularly her first (largely solo acoustic) one, will be instantly evoked by the spare and isolated feel of the songs and the production, not to mention the melodies, guitar playing, and singing. It's not a photocopy, however; it's hard to imagine Joni singing "I'm spacing out, I'm seeing silences between leaves, " as Perhacs does on "Chimacum Rain," unless Mitchell got spiked with acid right before getting onstage. In addition, Perhacs is adept at dropping unusual effects and arrangements into the mix on occasion that have a mildly disquieting and psychedelic vibe. Back to "Chimacum Rain," for example: double-tracked voices get into a slightly hypnotic, disorienting swirl, and suddenly move into a half-chanted section with doomy background notes from hard-to-identify instruments. "Parallelograms" is a round-like vocal (again with multi-track voices), consisting of exactly eight words, that without warning goes into creepy washes of electronically distorted voices, flutes, and rattles. Not all of the record is weird, though; much of it's just attractively wistful, moody singer-songwriter folk, sometimes with an engaging folk-jazz backup, sometimes just with a guitar, sometimes enlivened by creative smudges of organ and electric guitar. It is not currently fashionable to rediscover these kind of subdued early-seventies singer-songwriter albums, but if and when these sorts of overlooked recordings begin to get attention, Parallelograms will almost certainly become a cult favorite.

Bio & Reissue Review By AMG.

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