Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2019 February 04 • Monday

The 555th Soundtrack of the Week is Elliott Sharp's music for Calling All Earthlings, a documentary about a UFO cult of sorts.

The first piece is a groovy tune with a slippery melody played on slide guitar, conjuring up images of the desert.

"Area 52" is a bluesy and minimalist piece that sounds like it's played on a resonator guitar with a slide, perhaps exclusively.

Brushes on drums propel "Saguaro" forward while Sharp's acoustic guitar playing, echoed by some device, creates a lush and billowy atmosphere.

The electric guitar creates the almost funky mood of "Xaloc". At first it's almost entirely rhythm guitar but then some other electronic noises come in and add layers that expand the borders of the piece.

"Harmoniously" has an agreeable sort of shuffle played on the drums while dreamy guitar figures float above the rhythm section, suggesting island music or clouds. Other electronic voices come in and give it an otherwordly feel.

Bells announce the beginning of "The Builders", which becomes a vehicle for horns and percussion. It never really settles into a groove although there are repeated figures and suggestions of rhythmic and lyrical phrases.

"The Slip" starts out as a straight rock instrumental, but when the other instruments come in it's... what? Some kind of space-age dub lounge piece maybe? Whatever it is, I like it.

Spirally electric guitar fingerings are the primary voice in "Ifrit", in which the use of delays effectively builds layers of sound.

"Dry Gulch" sounds like it's a title, with snaky slide guitar slithering over sparse drums and bass, successfully evoking the aridity and wide open skies of the desert.

Another case of honesty in titles comes with "Low Twang Clan". Sharp's guitar does not sound like Duane Eddy here, though it would be easy to say so. Low and twanging and reverby it may be, but this has a different personality. It's admirably restrained and lyrical and a good illustration of how you can say a lot with a little.

The next cue, "Kreuzy", is almost like a new wave instrumental, with the drums pounding out a catchy beat, the bass just playing a couple of notes here and there and different electronic keyboard (I think) lines appearing and disappearing.

"Niltsi" is conceptually similar to "Ifrit", though in a lower register.

"Zauberpilze" is like some kind of avant pop song that could have come out of Germany in the '80s. Maybe. There are weird vocal-like flutterings on top of a cool drum beat and odd electronic lines.

The feel of "Gila Monster" and "Dry Gulch" is expanded on in the echoey electric guitar solo "Desert Visions".

"This Is This" belongs to the category of "Kreuzy" and "Zauberpilze", probably best described as some kind of minimalist avant pop instrumental.

Things get lush and multi-colored with the dreamy and eccentric "Amphibious", which takes elements of rock, jazz and blues but smears them together into a gentle but brightly colored sonic image.

After this comes an actual song with lyrics, "No Way Out", kind of a country rock song on downers.

"Horrors of La" is an instrumental with a psychedelic rock feel to it and finally, "Twang Cloud", the last cue, is a splendid desert piece with strong and vibrant guitar chords billowing and swirling around.