Cutting his teeth with groups such as Portraits, The Alps, and collaborating with Liz Harris (Grouper) as Raum, San Francisco based multi-instrumentalist Jefre Cantu-Ledesma has been releasing albums consistently since. On The Echoing Green is full-on elation and uninhibited emotion. Through hazy tape fuzz and glistening guitar, a pop joy shines through and then washes away through a crackling hiss without really taking form, But it's not quite drone, just distant songs...
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The extravagantly-named Jefre Cantu-Ledsma (nee Ledesma.. confused? You will be) is back! It’s been literally months since his last record, and here the San Francisco journeyman-musician adds to his already burgeoning, constantly expanding panoply of sound-styles (cosmic guitar experimentation, ambient, musique concrète, you name it) with -- wait for it -- shoegaze. I kid you not, reader. But credit where it’s due; he wears it well. Jefre is well-soled.
On this record, ‘On The Echoing Green’, JC-L walks *all* his instruments through the pastures between dale and hill to achieve a harsh sort of clarity where previous records were ethereally hazy and hard to pin down. Jangly guitars glisten -- as if left outside overnight to awake with a morning dew thereupon -- and tape noise fuzzes and hisses, just to underscore his newly-discovered Lush fixation... for at least the first five tracks. 'Tenderness' even has a familiar-sounding woman's voice on it. And lush it is, plus you can make out pretty, circular guitar melodies -- not riffs, exactly, more vignettes -- between the buffers of noise. In fact, the sparser, quieter moments (‘Echoing Green’, ‘Autumn’) may be short but they’re undeniably sweet. Caveat: the latter track sports a lot of wobbly tape effects and thudding, shuddering / plodding drum machine. I don’t know how much Jefre has abused these well worn instruments but here they’re screaming at him to stop. In a muffled way.
‘Dancers At The Spring’ features attractively chiming guitar melodies with a distant bass bubbling away in the background with watery piano ‘neath a tinny drum machine. Very Durutti here, Jefre. That chugging machine punctuates often; there it is on ‘The Faun’, a successful fusion of all the things at JCL’s disposal. It’s a pleasant noise making for possibly Cantu-Ledesma’s most conventional record yet.
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- On The Echoing Green by Jefre Cantu-Ledesma
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