This self-produced CD is a product of a nine-member collective from Montana. The liner notes describe Musical Graffiti as including "musicians, forest workers, doctors, drug counselors, mill workers, and a beat poet from San Francisco's heyday." Continuing, "What we have been doing here is invoking the art forms of music, poetry, and storytelling to bring some relief to this fractured, misused, terrorized world. By bringing these diverse souls and ideas together we endeavor to share our own healing work, and to expand it." The letter arriving with the CD declares, "The creation of our CD over the last year became an affirming journey into ourselves and into the fears and hopes being expressed over kitchen tables all across the country."
The album is a mix of music, spoken word pieces. Much of the music is traditional-sounding folk music, such as the album opener Heard It All Before, the anthemic sing-along and album closer Passing Through, and the story song Two Dancers. The album even includes a waltz (Waltz with the Muse) and a bluesy number (48 Plymouth, sung by the female group member known as Alien).
The most instrumentally complex and compelling song is the ten-plus minute Indigenous Blues, featuring sitar, cello, and various percussion pieces. In contrast, there are some weak numbers, which with a bit more work could be exceptional pieces. I feel the eight-minute Peace Inside wanders about; Catch the Spirit would be immensely better with stronger, more distinctive vocals.
Shamus Sedler is the resident beat poet (also playing upright bass and harmonica, among other instruments). His sometimes witty contributions weave in and out of the CD, serving as interludes between the musical pieces. They range from stories (Grandpa Deitchen's Story), to beat poetry (The Cosmic Circus), to one-liners (No Music), to political statement (I'm Waiting). I like the arrangement of his pieces throughout the CD--it seems to work very well on this album.
This CD is the ultimate in do-it-yourself. The sound quality isn't the best, but is adequate. The simple, homemade booklet and packaging evoke the spirit of Musical Graffiti: "It [the CD] is 'organic' so don't forget to wash off the dirt." Very organic, indeed!
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