Comes With A Smile

Felt Cover

A curious combination of beauty and dislocation is made manifest on this latest release from San Franciscan instrumentalists Charles Atlas, as gentle and eerie pieces are juxtaposed with unsettling musical collages. Maybe this is to be expected from an outfit that boasts ex-Piano Magic guitarist Charles Wyatt and Tony Conrad student Alex Kort within its ranks. This is a mature and atmospheric selection of pieces ranging from delicately treated piano flourishes (Miniature Lifeboat), barely audible spoken words offset by bluesy Spacemen 3 guitar twang (The Light They Intend for You), viola drones and other worldly synth bleeps (Que Biblia) and smouldering, nocturnal jazz (Valdivia). The whole project has the feel of the more contemplative moods of Miles Davis' '70s melting pot of jazz/rock/avant/world music on the likes of Get Up With It, as unusual and unexpected ideas are intertwined with melodic piano lines. It would that the musicians of Charles Atlas have the invention and the musical chops to undertake such a sophisticated and satisfying blending of boundaries. And the title? The Felt Cover in question is really more of a reinterpretation, as Martin Duffy's "Magellan" is transformed into a graceful reverberation of delayed piano and ebbing tide.

Simon Berkovitch