June 28, 2004

Rivulets/Marc Gartman

Tract Records has started an interesting little split-CD series entitled Matchmaker. The collection looks promising, with splits between Greg Weeks and Picastro and, most interestingly, Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom. (An entire list of other interested yet unconfirmed bands can be found at the label website.) Each series will have four-five songs from each artist. This first split, between Rivulets and Marc Gartman, proves that the Matchmaker series is an interesting one.

Rivulets is the brainchild of Nathan Amundson, and the fact that Rivulets records are released on Low's label Chair Kickers Union should tell you plenty about his musical style. His five songs--three new ones and two variations on the song "Cutter"--one, entitled "Cutter II," features Jarboe on vocals, and the second is a remix by Aartika. The songs are sad and depressing--and all the better for it. His music doesn't stray too far from the Rivulets formula, and if you like his melancholy ways, you'll love these songs.

Marc Gartman's five songs, however, have blown me away. Piano-based, and not unlike a weird combination of Ben Folds, Neil Young and Elton John, these five songs--including a cover of Young's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart"--are heartbreakingly beautiful. The washes of pedal steel on instrumental "Roswell" make this little song even sadder, and Gartman's gentle singing voice on "The Error Of My Ways" and "Hats And Wools" will make you--and yours truly--want to hear much more from this young man.

All in all, the Rivulets/Marc Gartman is a bleak yet beautiful way to spend 45 minutes. Both acts are major talents in training, especially Gartman, and this record is a great introduction to both. Looking forward to hearing the other records in this series.

--Joseph Kyle

Artist Website: http://www.rivulets.net
Artist Website: http://www.pushpinmusic.com
Label Website: http://www.tractrecords.com

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