(All Album Reviews by ffroyd)
Thin Pillow is a project coordinated by David Shamrock, writer, mutli-instrumentalist and former member of Oakland's Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. I really need to start reading the press releases (or at the very least the track listings) of things that get sent to me before listening to the music..when I played this for the first time I said to myself, "Hey I know this tune!" It took me about a minute to realize I was listening to "Ambugoton" because it's quite different from the one on SGM's Grand Opening And Closing CD. The version here is mostly acoustic and features the wonderful violin work of another Sleepytime member Karla Kihlstedt.
Shamrock states that he has currently been exploring "gridless" music, or music with no regular pulse. For his scores, he is examining pre-composed pieces. By magnifying something as common as white noise, he has discovered a multitude of uncharted patterns and melodies which he transforms into music. He has a pretty swift name for this, he calls the process "decomposition". The end result is sometimes unstable but always fascinating blend of electronically composed acoustic music. I don't think he uses the process for all of the music but a good deal of it is very "out there".
Karla makes another appearance on the track "Farewell" where she adds some very sinister viola, making the track sound quite a bit like here other project The Tin Hat Trio. Other guests include Thinking Plague guitarist Mike Johnson, who plays guitar on two tracks and Steve Adams from Rova Saxophone Quartet who plays flutes on the twisted "Procession and Fanfare". Assisting Shamrock in the recording and mixing of the album is another Sleepytime Gorilla Museum member Dan Rathbun, although he doesn't play on it.
For the most part, Thin Pillow is an acoustic album with some very intense original compositions. Shamrock's main instruments on this are drums, piano and acoustic guitar and he's an exceptional player on all of them. Although the music is on the more serious side it still remains fun and completely fascinating. Anyone that's heard Tin Hat Trio should know what to expect, this can be quite a bit more experimental though. Head on over to the Thin Pillow page on