AVANT FUNHOUSE

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As you might be able to tell from the title, this record finds local-unto-international acoustic prog-popster Frank Pahl integrating his whacked-out sounds with those of other mischievous musicians, a motley assortment from the Immigrant Suns to the Blue Sun Quintet to Pahl's home base, Only a Mother. The fact that these collaborators are so different, running the very long distance from Missy Gibson to Eugene Chadbourne, yet so like-minded, emphasizes Pahl's own diverse musical visions. Pahl's calling cards are generous helpings of ukulele, euphonium and whistling, all part of a playing field where Ukulele Ike, Charles Ives and Don Van Vliet meet in an avant-garde adjunct to the soundworld of Taking Tiger Mountain or Bone Machine. Highlights include a Johnny Hartmanesque take on the psychological perils of wearing a dead man's clothes, the bass brass drones of "Asylum Overture," even a transmission from a senior inhabitant of the Duplex Planet, courtesy of David Greenberger. In all, In Cahoots is a humorously dark funhouse of musical creativity.

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