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Rick Rizzo & Tara Key 

Dark Edson Tiger

Rick Rizzo & Tara Key
Dark Edson Tiger
(Thrill Jockey)

Rick Rizzo and Tara Key met some 20 years ago, when both were part of the late-'70s Louisville punk scene; over the years, they've abetted each other on their individual projects. Rizzo is best known for his work as frontman of the guitar-heavy Eleventh Dream Day. Key has played guitar with both the Babylon Dance Band and Antietam (she also put out several solo albums in the early '90s). Rizzo and Key have crafted an instrumental gem for their first duo project, and the eight-song album is beautiful, carefully molded, and easy on the ears.

One of the most interesting aspects of Dark Edson Tiger is the fact that it took nine months to write the songs, and only twice were Key and Rizzo actually standing in the same room in the same city. The songwriting process was a tape-trading venture -- Rizzo's parts were recorded in Chicago by Dutch Harbor's Braden King, and Key did her parts in New York with longtime musical partner and husband Tim Harris. The two times the duo united for recording sessions, they were accompanied by Harris, Yo La Tengo's Georgia Hubley, and Run On's Rick Brown and Katie Gentile.

Although Key is known as an edgy-guitar cock-rocker, the majority of the songs on this record fit into the non-rock section. Dark Edson Tiger is mysterious, slow, and serious. All the songs are highly developed -- a few of them even round out to seven-plus minutes. Rizzo directs timeless, ethereal soundscapes by weaving and looping together guitar, strings, bass, piano, and percussion. The album opener, "Good Evening Mr. Peckinpah," sounds more likely to have been recorded by a small orchestra than a medium-sized band. Their educations in early punk served Rizzo and Key well when it came to making flawless feedback on tracks such as "8 Bells." The one and only rocker is "Low Post Movement in D," a standout guitar head-nodder. -- Amy Schroeder

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