Golden Tree on Important Records (Review)

Kawabata Makoto & à qui avec Gabriel

Golden Tree

Important Records

Kawabata Makoto is best known for his work with the group Acid Mothers Temple, a post-psych noise rock collective that can melt paint off of walls with the amplitude of their recordings. When the guitarist joins forces with accordionist and vocalist à qui avec Gabriel for the album Golden Tree (Important Records), he creates an entirely different sound world.

The album consists of three extended duets; one, “Solid Torus,” lasting in excess of half an hour. Balancing with long held tones on the accordion, the guitar lines provide an uneasy counterpoint that, while less subdued than the torrents of fuzzed soloing one hears on AMT releases, is no less focused. Indeed, there is a sense that the energy Makoto is keeping in reserve could at any moment be unleashed; released like a tightly coiled spring. Instead, most often balance is sought by both parties, with guitar harmonics and the occasional feedback flirtation blending with the accordion’s treble register drones and ephemeral clusters. à qui avec Gabriel also has a beautiful soprano singing voice, which she sometimes lends to the proceedings in sustained lines and repeated tones. Golden Tree is at its most beguiling when vocalized tones, sustained guitar lines, and accordion drones dovetail together in an intense dovetailing of dolphin-like song.

Random Bests of ’08: Best collusion of violinist and accordionist

Hearts and Daggers


Petra Haden and Miss Murgatroid

Hearts & Daggers

File Under Music


Multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Petra Haden collaborates again with accordionist Miss Murgatroid on Hearts and Daggers, released on File Under Music (no relation to this blog). Haden possesses a chameleon-like versatility. She’s involved in various collaborations with members of her musical family, records as a solo artist, and has become something of a YouTube sensation for a cappella renditions of Journey and covering the Who.


Hearts and Daggers explores her interest in creating chamber pop that draws upon a variety of influences: Gypsy music, Celtic folk ballads, minimalism, and classical repertoire. All this is stirred into a pot with the aforementioned classic rock inflections and a cappella layered singing to create willfully eclectic, but eminently attractive material. Murgatroid’s penchant for long, sustained harmonies has the efficacious side effect of slowing down Haden’s lightning fast musical metabolism, allowing the songs to settle; taking more organic shapes despite their disparate starting points.