jenks miller & rose cross nc Blues from WHAT (CD, £9.50)label: 3 Lobed Recordings
North Carolina native Jenks Miller is a bit too otherworldly to ever be pegged as a regional musician. Still, he seems to have the South in his bones. Still, Miller is hard to avoid in the cultural hotbed of the NC Triangle music scene. In addition to playing guitar in the beloved local rust rock unit, Mount Moriah, Miller has released a run of spidery electric guitar solo records under his own name. And for the last decade, he has helmed the experimental Horseback, whose humid, heavy drones conjure like nothing else the suffocating, insect hum of the warm southern night. In recent years, heís been playing out with his purgatorial jam outfit, Rose Cross NCóan exercise, as their vaguely alchemical name indicates, in the swamp psychedelia of the Southern occult. Blues from WHAT is the first recording under the Rose Cross NC moniker to capture the searing sound of the touring bandís labyrinthine live performances. This is somewhat ironic, as Blues is essentially a solo album. Aside from Rose Cross keyboardist Elysse Millerís welcome shadings on the Grendel Drone Commander throughout the affair, Blues from WHAT still mostly finds Jenks Miller conjuring alone. One wouldnít necessarily know it, though. The proceedings are as densely tangled as anything in their live set. When prompted, Jenks Miller will happily unravel the various threads of esoterica woven into his music. But what makes Millerís musical oeuvre so extraordinary is the way he manages to keep his revelations rooted in the physical and sonic landscape of the American South. There is a lived-in, historic quality to Blues from WHAT that is absent from so much of the headspace abstraction of contemporary experimental music. This music feels like it is from somewhere. At times, it feels like it has always been there, waiting for us.
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