Steve Tibbetts: Yr (ECM 1355)



Steve Tibbetts

Steve Tibbetts guitars, kalimba, synthesizer
Marc Anderson congas, drums, percussion
Bob Hughes bass
Steve Cochrane tabla
Marcus Wise tabla
Tim Weinhold bongos, vase, bells
Recorded ca. 1980 at Atma-Sphere and Oxit Roxon, St. Paul
Engineer: Steve Tibbetts
Produced by Steve Tibbetts

Yr is yet another fascinating peek into the Steve Tibbetts sound-verse. The feeling of open plains that so characterized his previous efforts remains, only now the production is more immediate, such that the 12-string intimations unlocking the doors of “Ur” set us adrift in our own mysteries. Percussionist Marc Anderson soars, seeming to grow out of Tibbetts’s hollow-bodied heart before the heavy thrum of the latter’s electric curls itself into a ball and rolls down a hill of unrelenting melody. After an explosion of beats and guitars settles us into the soothing reverie of “Sphexes,” we find our expectations blotted by an interlude of kalimbas before Tibbetts spreads his buttery axe over this acoustic toast with sweetness in “Ten Years.” Fantastic. “One Day,” much like the opener, rises from the ashes of a campfire, but not without leaving an aftertaste of the prairie. “Three Primates” is a pocket of sunshine that shifts masterfully between tones and timbres. Now darkened by shadow, now blinded by noon, it dives headfirst to a tabla-infused conclusion. “You And It” is another shimmering slice of life. Backed by strings and icy sleigh bells, it breathes life into a new day. This opens the doors even wider, letting in the dawn’s early electric and unleashing a torrent of dreams made real. “The Alien Lounge” traipses through tall grasses, weaving past abandoned foxholes and memories of warm nights toward the starlight of “Ten Yr Dance,” spun like a home movie rewound to one’s first days on earth.

This is by far Tibbetts’s most uplifting date and one sure to win you over with its no-frills charm, emoting as it does with an artistry at which we can only shake our heads in wonder. It also shows just how deftly and appropriately he takes advantage of the studio, flipping prerecorded bits on end and adding just the right touch of electronics for depth. The spaces therein are constantly morphing, content to move on once they have achieved a certain kind of beauty while always looking forward to the next.

Timeless, as all Tibbetts releases are.

<< Oregon: Ecotopia (ECM 1354)
>> Pepl/Joos/Christensen: Cracked Mirrors (ECM 1356)

4 thoughts on “Steve Tibbetts: Yr (ECM 1355)

  1. This is a wonderful record. Manfred must have thought so too, given that it was originally released on a different label — which seems a very un-Manfred thing to do. Thanks Tyran!

    1. And thank you, Will, for posting the first comment of 2012! For years The Fall Of Us All was as far as my Tibbetts knowledge went (there’s still so much to discover in that one), and it’s only recently that I’ve had the courage to explore the earlier releases. His is a daunting travelogue, to be sure.

  2. Yes, Tyran – you need to find a copy of this as Tibbetts recorded it on his own Frammis label. The mix is quite different, and one song was essentially recorded anew (track 4 – almost a hoe-down feel on the original!). My friend Jeff, from Michigan, introduced me to the first two Tibbetts albums when we were in grad school together at Dartmouth in 1980. I’ve got both the vinyl and the CD of the Frammis Yr. It is well worth hearing!

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