December 07, 2002

Tara Jane O'Neil & Daniel Littleton "Music For a Meteor Shower"

Did you happen to see that big meteor shower a few weeks ago? Seems like everyone was making a big fuss over it, which seemed really kind of odd to me, to see such a fuss over a meteor shower. I hate to admit it, but I was kind of half-hoping for a Night of the Comet type of incident. Horrible, I know, but I was in need of some excitement at the time--and world destruction seemed viable. That night was foggy and cloudy and as such the whole affair seemed to be a bit of a dud, even though the night was still rather lovely and charming. Well, Music For A Meteor Shower might have made an interesting muscial soundtrack for this disappointing evening, had I thought about bringing it along. (Oh well, there's always next century.)

Tara Jane O'Neil and Daniel Littleton are two artists who have had very long, interesting musical careers. O'Neil, among other things, was the brains behind bands such as Rodan, Retsin, and Sonora Pine, and Littleton has led Ida for many years now. Both of them make very delicate, subtle music, and have collaborated before, creating soft, sensitive sounds for precious folk-loving folk. That they've come together to create an album together such as this is of no real surprise, considering their histories.

Essentially an instrumental album, Music For a Meteor Shower highlights their more experimental sides. Of course, when you're making folk music, the music itself often gets overlooked, and sometimes the experimental nature of what you're doing really doesn't seem to stand out. Thus, it's nice to actually hear these two playing their guitars and making interesting noises with all kinds of little toys. The one time singing does happen, "Ooh La La...," you can't help but feel as if this song is really out of place--as if the sanctity of the instrumental concept had been violated.
Several of the "songs" on Music For a Meteor Shower are merely short compositions that flow into oter small compositions--creating a larger musical piece while holding on to some sort of identity of its own. If you're not paying attention to the song track, you really wouldn't know that you'd changed songs.

The music is pretty, but I should give you a word of warning. At times, this album sounds like you're simply listening to two artists hanging out in an empty room, playing riffs, and not really having any direction. When toys and gizmos and atmosphere is added, though, you feel like you're listening to two geniuses in the studio, at work on something greater, something nicer that is yet to come--which means some good ideas mixed with ideas that aren't really formed or cohesive quite yet.

Music For A Meteor Shower is a lovely, pretty record that would make great background music for a night of simply watching the stars. While it might not do much for either O'Neil or Littleton's reputation as artists, it certainly highlights their musical abilities and shows the process of collaboration between two highly talented folk.

---Joseph Kyle

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