Pimplomat

 
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Cabinet of Natural Curiosities
Thursday, June 15, 2006
I think it's time for me to let you know about my friend's musical project. But as usual, I'm just going to cut and paste from a site that has already something written about them. Why? One, because I'm lazy and pressed for time, and two, because whomever wrote the piece already did a good job.

"The Cabinet of Natural Curiosities is an American folk music group known for its experimental use of field recordings, Native American-influenced percussion, and storytelling lyrics. Initially just an umbrella for the quiet, lo-fi recordings of singer-guitarist Jasmine Dreame Wagner, the New York City-based Cabinet fleshed out into a real band in 2005, adding brothers Ryan Martin on guitar and former Beauty Shop member Joe Martin on percussion. While the group primarily performs Wagner's compositions, recent recordings have included pieces by the latter Martin and improvisation.

"Though the Cabinet of Natural Curiosities remains a mysterious enterprise at best - a quick survey of their Web site reveals neither a band photo nor any biographical information - the group has developed a modest following. Given the lack of real information available about the band, many fans point to the group's use of unusual instruments, such as alto recorders and Inuit hand drums, as part of their allure. An early touring press release found the band themselves highlighting this:

"The Cabinet of Natural Curi­os­it­ies performs ex­per­i­ment­al folk chants and ef­fect­s-laden in­stru­ment­als. The col­lect­ive weaves ghost stories and his­tor­ic­al ballads through a patchwork of field re­cord­ing­s, classical guitar, alto recorder, bells and tribal per­cus­sion.

"The group has also won fans through their erratic, oftentimes chaotic live shows, which have ranged from Nick Cave-style chamber folk concerts with auxiliary members (including a violinist and a pianist) to elemental noise rock outings featuring only Wagner and Joe Martin. While critics have sometimes been put off by the Cabinet's live inconsistency, those who enjoy the band generally view the group's live shows as unpredictable and, as a result, exciting. Apparently aware of this, the band released a number of improvised tracks from a late-November 2005 concert on their website in December of 2005.

"Following a slew of self-released EPs and a couple well-received 2005 appearances at Ladyfest San Diego and New York's CMJ Music Marathon, the Cabinet of Natural Curiosities signed with Perhaps Transparent, an independent record label based in New Jersey. Their first LP for the label, tentatively titled Vineland, is set for a summer 2006 release."

I've known Jasmine for a few years now since my friend, Stephen, played in her band, The Panic. She's a very talented writer (published in such places as The Indiana Review, The Seattle Review, The North American Review and The Columbia Review), and she will enter the MFA program at the University of Montana this fall. I'm not sure what this means for the band, but I'm sure they will find a way to continue making music.

Song of the Day
"St. James Infirmary" by Cabinet of Natural Curiousities
posted by pimplomat @ 1:40 PM  
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